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"The experiences and impressions of a most accomplished travel- 
writer, journeying to the battlefield of Liao-yang and back." 

The Pall Ma.ll Gazette. 

t The volume is made up from three of the author's earlier books, 
and contains those sections which he regards as of permanent 
interest. The reader will find that they give a fascinating: account 
of modern life in Russia as viewed from various standpoints." 




To H. G. 


I dedicate this book to you in the hope that 
you will read it ; for if you do, I shall feel certain 
of having at least one reader who will understand 
exactly what I have tried to say, however in- 
adequate the expression may have been, and 
who, at any rate, will not misunderstand me. 

Not long ago I was looking on at a play in 

London. The audience was, on the whole, of 


that kind which the Americans cfall " high- 
browed," with a certain sprinkling of the semi- 
intelligent and the wholly elegant. Behind me 
were sitting a young man and a young lady, 
who were discussing intellectual topics suited to 
the rarer atmosphere of that interesting theatre. 


Among other subjects, they talked about Mr. 
Stephen Grahame's books and articles on Russia. 
I do not know if you have read his books; if 
not, I advise you to do so. But you probably 
know that they deal with the Russian people; 
that Mr. Grahame walked on foot from Moscow 
to Archangel ; and travelled, as a pilgrim, with 
Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem. It is therefore 
obvious that he came into close contact with the 
Russian people, and that his knowledge was at 
first hand and derived from direct experience. 

Well, would you believe it, the highly educated 
young gentleman who was sitting behind me, 
who had read Mr. Grahame's books and articles, 
said I could hardly believe my ears, but he 
said it that the trouble about Mr. Grahame 
was his blind faith in the Russian Bureaucracy. 
I confess, when these words caught my ear, I 
thought to myself what is the use of writing 
books if intelligent people in reading them de- 
rive an impression which is the exact opposite 
of that which you think you have expressed 
with some clearness ? 

The young man in question went on to say 
that such was Mr. Grahame's fierce faith in 


political reaction that he dared to compare a 
half-starved Russian peasant with a free Ameri- 
can citizen, and here again he revealed fresh 
vistas of misapprehension. 

I have often had similar experiences myself 
since I began to write about Russian things. 
I have at various times been accused of being 
a revolutionary, a conservative, a liberal, 
a fanatical reactionary. But these accusa- 
tions have left me indifferent, since, as they 
contradict themselves, they cancel out into 

As far as the subject of Russia is concerned, I 
have always, and only, had one object in view: 
to stimulate in others an interest which I have 
myself experienced. I know I cannot explain 
why it is but I know that between the Russian 
and the English peoples there are curious pos- 
sibilities of sympathy, curious analogies, and 
still more curious differences which complement 
one another. I know the Russians and the 
English do get on well when they meet and get 
to know each other. I know the sympathy I 
myself have felt, and do feel, for the Russians is 
a sympathy which would, can, and could be felt 


by many of my countrymen. This has been my 
whole and sole object in writing about Russia. 
I am engaged on one more very short book on 
Russian literature, and then I shall drop the 
subject for ever. I have said my say, I leave 
it to the newer and better writers to say theirs. 

But in the meantime, in regard to this book, I 
repeat I wish to secure at least one reader who 
will understand and who will not misunderstand. 
That is why I dedicate this book to you. At 
the same time I hope, even if you do not read 
it, that it will remind you of the strenuous days 
and the Attic nights which we spent together 
in St. Petersburg. 

Yours ever, 


February 22-March 7, 1914. 


I HAVE endeavoured in this book to provide some 
kind of answer to the questions which I found 
by experience are generally put by the traveller 
who conies to Russia for the first time, and whose 
curiosity is stimulated with regard to the way 
in which the people live and to the manner of 
their government. 

I have endeavoured to convey to the reader a 
single idea of the nature of the more important 
factors in Russian life. I am only too well aware 
that what I have to supply in the way of ex- 
planation and elucidation is inadequate, incom- 
plete, and superficial. My excuse is that the 
questions of the average inquirer are, as a rule, 
neither profound nor comprehensive ; and that 
profound or comprehensive replies, were I capable 
of giving them which I am not would be 
received neither with . attention nor interest. 

viii PREFACE. 

They would be like arrows shot Into empty space. 
For the average inquirer has neither time nor 
inclination for exhaustive inquiry or minute re- 
search. He wishes to be told what he wishes to 
know in a manner he can understand, and as 
briefly as possible. But my hope is that I may 
stimulate the interest of the reader in the subject, 
and in a manner which may lead him to seek 
for more exhaustive information at the fountain- 
head, or at richer sources than mine. This is 
every day becoming easier. 

Some years ago books on Russia which had any 
serious value or substantial interest were few and 
far between. Lately the interest in Russian affairs 
has been stimulated by many causes : by the 
coming of Russian artists, singers, and dancers to 
England ; by the appearance in the press of valu- 
able articles written by Russian authors ; by the 
publication of adequate translations from Russian 
authors (Mrs. Garnett's translations of Dos- 
toievsky, for instance) ; and by several excel- 
lent books written by English authors on Russia, 
such as the books of Mr. Stephen Grahame deal- 
ing with the Russian people, the admirable and en- 
cyclopaedic work of Mr. Harold Williams, and, in a 


somewhat lighter vein, Mr. Reynold's " My Rus- 
sian Year." All these books reveal a standpoint, 
a mastery of the subject, that are far removed 
from the fantastic, false, and melodramatic con- 
coctions that were abundant some years ago. 

In calling this book the " Mainsprings " of 
Russia, I am conscious of having omitted 
several of the most important mainsprings of 
Russian life : chief among them its commerce 
and industry. The subject is so large that, had I 
dealt with it at all, there would have been no room 
for anything else in a book of this size. Also, 
as far as the actual facts are concerned they are 
to be found clearly stated in Dr. Kennard's 
excellent " Russian Year Book." 

Nor have I attempted to deal with the Army 
and the Navy, which I consider to be factors 
which are likely to be dealt with by experts, 
since they cannot afford to be altogether neglected 
by foreigners. There is another subject I have 
omitted it is not, it is true, a mainspring of 
Russian life ; but it is a sore spot and a question 
of burning vital interest I mean the Jewish 

In a book as short as this it would be impos- 



sible to devote sufHcieiit space to the matter 
without crowding out other things which concern 
the greater majority ; but it is most desirable 
that competent observers should deal with the 
Jewish question in Russia, which at present, as far 
as the rest of Europe is concerned, is almost 
entirely handled either by bitter Aiiti- Semites, 
or by those who are the actors in the drama it- 
self. And there is no question in Modern Russia 
which is fraught with more far-reaching effects, 
and probably none which is at present more 
difficult of solution. 

My thanks are due to A. J. Halpern of the 
Russian Bar for his valuable help in regard to the 
chapter on " Justice," to Mr. Dimitriev-Mamonov, 
and to many other Russian friends for their criti- 
cism and advice. 









IX. EDUCATION ...... 246 

X. JUSTICE ....... 269 






I SHOULD like to set the reader's mind at 
* rest at once. I am not going to ask him to 
read a historical treatise on the origins of the 
Russian people, nor am I going to lead him into 
the obscure pathways and dim shadows of the 
remote past. 

Firstly, even if I wished to do so, I have not 
the necessary erudition, nor the requisite powers 
-of learned exposition. Secondly, the origin of 
the Russian people is a debatable question ; the 
theories with regard to it are constantly chang- 
ing, and vary with the fickle fashion of the day ; 
the orthodox views of forty , of thirty, of twenty 
years ago are now said to be old-fashioned ; and 



the orthodox views of to-day will probably be 
considered old-fashioned before very long. The 
reason being that all such views are highly con- 
jectural, and that very little is known about the 
shifting tides, eddies, and currents in the im- 
measurably far-off floods of races and tribes out 
of which the Russian people emerged. 

Thirdly, whenever I open a book that begins 
with a historical retrospect, I feel that it is the 
reader's duty to skip that chapter. 

Why, then, write anything o. the kind ? The 
answer is that I am writing on the assumption 
that the reader is an average reader, and that if 
he has bought or borrowed a book about Russia, 
he will be sufficiently interested in the subject 
to be able to stand a few simple facts to begin 
with, even if they are historical. I also assume 
that, if he has bought or borrowed this book, 
and has not gone to a public library to get a 
more learned book, he is not a specialist that 
is to say, he knows as much or as little as the 
average Englishman knows about Russia who 
has received an average English education, who 
reads The Times, and takes a moderate but in- 
telligent interest in international politics and 


foreign countries, and who has perhaps read one 
or two standard books on Russia, and not only 
My Official Wife by Savage, Michael Strogoff by 
Jules Verne, and all that picturesque tribe of 
books called either Red Russia, Scarlet Russia, 
Crimson Russia, Free Russia, the Real Russia, 
Russia as she is, or Russia as she isn't. 

There is also another class of reader who may 
take up the book, also an average reader, with 
an average education,, but whose knowledge of 
Russia is of a different and wider kind the 
reader of translations of Russian novels, the 
devotee of Tolstoy and Turgeniev and Gorky; 
the man or woman it is generally a Woman who 
has seen translations of Chekhov's plays at the 
Stage Society, and who is a fervent admirer of the 
Russian ballet. He or she is interested in Russia, 
but has never been there ; and although familiar 
with Russian novels and plays, he or she is more 
inclined to form an opinion of the Russian people 
on data derived from English novels on Russian 
life than from Russian novels on Russian life. 

I have often come across cases of this kind 
I mean people who do not appear to realize 
that the intensely realistic Russian fiction that 


they so much admire probably has some basis 
and counterpart in real life, and who, in spite 
of this documentary evidence with regard to 
Russian life, with which they are familiar, still 
continue to form a picture of Russian life based 
on English fiction such as is written by English 
journalists and novelists. 

Such readers, my experience is, if they come 
across certain historical facts about Russia in 
the past or the present, meet them with a shock 
of surprise and often with a smile of incredulity. 

It is for the benefit of the average reader of 
every kind that I want to try and make a few, 
a very few, historical facts clear, which I think 
throw light on any attempt to deal with any 
aspects of Russian life. If the reader knows 
them too well already, he will forgive me and 
skip, proud of his superior knowledge ; if he 
disbelieves them, he can dispute them, and 
prove me wrong. 

My first fact is geographical. It is that 
Russia is a flat country, without an indented 
seacoast, and without sharp mountain ranges. 
It is not only flat but uniform. Owing to this, 
the expansion of the Russian people took place 


on land. The Russians were, and are, constantly 
emigrating, at first from south to north, and 
afterwards from west to east. Russia is there- 
fore a country of colonists. 

I remember once saying this to a man to whom 
the statement evidently came as a shock of sur- 
prise, because he replied, " Really, I thought 
Russia was an autocracy." 

Now, who are these colonists ? Who are the 
Russians, in fact? I wonder if one set this 
question to all the schoolboys and under- 
graduates, what the most prevalent answer 
would be. I believe it would be something like 
this : that the Russian was a man got up like 
a European except in winter, but that if you 
scratched him you would find a Tartar,, and 
that a Tartar was a man with a yellow skin and 
a snub nose. I think you might also often get 
the answer that Russians were Slavs ; but that 
if you asked what a Slav is, you would be told 
he was a kind of Tartar. 

In Russia at the present day you will find 
representatives of every kind of race and every 
kind of creed Buriats who worship Buddha, 
and disciples of the late Lord Radstock and 


every kind of language ; but out of all these, 
three dominant races played a part in Russian 
history the Finns, the Tartars, and the Slavs. 
The Slavs got the best of it. They absorbed the 
Finns and ousted the Tartars. 

So we remain face to face with the question, 
What are the Slavs ? As to how, why, whence, 
and when the Slavs came to Russia hundreds of 
books have been written, and the solution of 
the problem is, I believe, like that of many 
historical questions, a matter of fashion. 

One solid fact, however, rises before our 
grateful comprehension. The Slavs are a white 
people like the Latins, the Celts, and the Ger- 
mans ; they have nothing in common with any- 
thing Tartar, Mongol, or Semitic ; and there are 
traces of them having been in Southern Europe 
on the banks of the Vistula and of the Dnieper 
from time immemorial. 

Having got to Russia a long time ago, they 
overran the country and absorbed it. 

They began in the south, the capital being 
Kiev, and in the eleventh century Russia was 
a part of the political sj^stem of Europe. 

Russia, in the days before William the Con- 


queror in the days of Harold, who was related 
to one of the rulers of Kiev, Yaroslav was not 
more backward than France or England were 
at that time, and would probably have de- 
veloped in the same manner as the other European 
countries had it not been for an unfortunate 
interruption in the shape of a Mongol or Tartar 

From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century 
Russia was under the dominion of the Mongols. 

The Slavs, as they gradually expanded and 
absorbed Russia, fell into two natural divisions : 
the Great Russians and the Little Russians,, 
which correspond to the north and the south. 
When the Pviongol invasion came about, the 
Little Russians were cut off from the Great 

The Great Russians continued to expand 
northward, southward, and eastward. They were 
engaged in a perpetual struggle against the East. 
They acted as a buffer for Europe against the 
East ; and in the sixteenth century they finally 
got rid of the Eastern yoke altogether and 
drove them out of the country. 

This is the big fact I have been leading up 


to : Russia saved Western Europe from being 
overrun by hordes of barbarians. 

" There is/ 5 writes the late Mr. Stead, in the 
introduction to the translation of Labaume's 
narrative of Napoleon's campaign, " a strange 
and pestilent habit among some Englishmen of 
ignoring all the great services which Russia 
has rendered to the cause of human progress 
and the liberty of nations." 

That Russia acted as a buffer against the 
barbarian invasion from the East is the first 
and not the least of these services. 

In the sixteenth century the Great Russia was 
a kingdom centralized in Moscow, chiefly engaged 
in fighting her neighbours, the most powerful 
of which was Poland, and one of the most ener- 
getic and singular of her rulers, Ivan the Terrible, 
began to negotiate with the West. Ivan, in 
fact, wished to marry Queen Elizabeth ; but 
Western Europe was not vitally affected by 
Russia until the appearance on the stage of the 
world of that extraordinary monarch, and still 
more extraordinary man, called Peter the Great. 

Peter the Great not only conceived and 
executed the idea of opening in Russia a window 


on to the West, but he restored to Russia her 
place among European nations the place she had 
occupied in the eleventh century, and which she - 
had lost owing to the Mongol invasion. 

It was no abnormal or unnatural mission 
that Peter the Great set out to accomplish, 
otherwise his work would have died with him. 
He carried Russia along the natural road of her 
career. Only, being a man of abnormal genius, 
he gave to Russia a violent electric shock ; he 
accelerated to an extent, which seems little short 
of miraculous, the natural progress of the country. 
He accomplished in a few years the work of many 
generations. " Pierre I er ," says Montesquieu, 
66 donnait les moeurs et les rnanieres de PEurope 
a une nation de FEurope." He shifted the 
capital of the country, built St. Petersburg 
on a swamp, created an army, a fleet, en- 
rolled quantities of foreigners into the service of 
Russia. He sketched the outlines of a gigantic 
plan, which still remains to be filled in to this day. 
The violence and fury with which he compelled 
a reluctant people to adopt his changes had, 
of course, its drawbacks. A nation has to pay 
for a man of genius, even when he is working 


on the right lines, for what is for the good o! 
his country, and for what is, in the long run, in 
accordance with its national spirit. 

Peter the Great was successful, but the methods 
which he had to employ in order to bring about 
his swift and gigantic changes were not without 
regrettable results, which are still visible in the 
machinery of Russian administration and in 
the nature of many Russian institutions. He 
found Russia a sleepy kingdom encrusted with 
Oriental habit and Byzantine tradition ; he 
hacked off that crust with an axe, and he left 
Russia open to the influences of Europe, and 
ready to value the place which was her due 
amongst the nations of Europe. 

His work was carried on by Catherine II. on 
the same lines, and further. She opened edu- 
cated Russia to European ideas; she civilized 
Russia intellectually ; and Russia, under her 
guidance, took a leading part in the European 

But it was later that Russia was destined to 
play a part which vitally affected every nation 
of Western Europe. This was in 1812. In 
1812 Russia broke up the power of Napoleon. 


" Leipzig and Waterloo were but the corol- 
laries/ 5 writes Mr. Stead, " of a solved problem. 55 

" It is an Incontestable fact/' writes M. Ram- 
baud, the French historian of Russia, " that of 
all the allies, Russia showed herself the least 
grasping. It was she who had given the signal 
for the struggle against Napoleon, and had 
shown most perseverance in pursuit of the 
common end. Without her example the states 
of Europe would never have dreamed of arming 
against him. Her skilful leniency towards France 
finished the work begun by the war." 

So far, all these facts I have mentioned concern 
the relations of Russia to Europe ; they neces- 
sarily reacted on the internal conditions of the 

The fact that Russia was playing an important 
part abroad meant that the means by which this 
part could be played had to be furnished at 
home, and the finding of such means affected 
the administration of the country and the whole 
of its population. 

In order that Russia should be able to play 
a part in Europe, the first thing that was neces- 
sary was an army. 


Peter the Great made an army (and a fleet). 
How did he do it ? Where did the officers and 
men come from ? 

When Peter the Great came to the throne, 
the organization of the State was patriarchal. 
There was practically no standing army except 
a kind of corps of janissaries, the streltsy (which 
he destroyed). There were two classes : the 
nobility and the peasants. The nobility held 
the land and the peasants tilled it ; but the 
nobility held the land on one condition only, 
and that was that they should render military 
service in their own person when it was 

The nobles were at the same time landowners 
and servants of the State, but they were 
landowners only on condition of being State 

The peasants belonged to the land ; they were 
attached to the land and could not be separated 
from it. This is what serfdom meant in Russia. 
Serfdom was not an immemorial institution in 
Russia. It was not a relic of paganism or 
barbarism ; it was founded neither on conquest, 
nor on the habit of turning the captives made 


in inter-tribal wars into slaves, nor on a differ- 
ence of race or colour ; and unless this be under- 
stood, unless the true nature of this serfdom 
be realized, it is impossible to understand the 
part which the Russian peasantry play in the 
Russian nation. 

Briefly, serfdom came about thus. The 
peasants cultivated the land which the monarch 
conceded to the nobles as a salary or means of 
subsistence in return for military service. But 
up till about the end of the sixteenth century the 
peasants could choose and change their masters, 
and pass from one estate to another. They 
used, in fact, to exercise their right of transfer 
once a year, on St. George's Day. 

At the end of the sixteenth century labour 
was precious and rare, and eagerly sought after 
by the nobles. The peasants were naturally in- 
clined to emigrate, and the more adventurous 
were attracted towards the regions of the Don, 
the Kama, the Volga, and Siberia, and they thus 
avoided paying taxes. Moreover, the larger 
landed proprietors attracted the peasants to 
their estates to the detriment of the smaller landed 
proprietors. The primitive fiscal system of that 


day suffered from all this, and as a remedy to 
this state of things, in order to guarantee and 
regularize the financial and military supplies of 
the State, the peasant was attached to the soil. 
In 1593, in the reign of Feodor, the son of Ivan 
the Terrible, and owing to the initiative of 
Boris Godonnov, the right of transfer from 
one estate to another was first temporarily taken 
away from the peasant. The prohibition to 
transfer their service on this date was renewed 
by several sovereigns, and was finally crystallized 
in the law of the country. Once attached to the 
soil the peasant gradually lost his civil rights 
and became the chattel of the proprietor ; thus 
what began by being a simple police measure 
ended by becoming organized slavery. Such 
was the state of things when Peter the Great 
came to the throne- The peasant was attached 
to the soil, the nobility were the army, for when 
an army was needed they had to fight themselves 
and to supply so many men into the bargain. 

Peter the Great wanted a standing army ; 
and in order to get one, and at the same time 
to carry on the administration of the country, 
he created, or rather enlarged, the system of 


universal service. Every single Russian became 
a public servant. Henceforward it became obli- 
gatory for the noble to serve the State either in 
the military or the civil service always, and 
not only in times of war. Moreover, in order 
to be an officer he had to pass an examination, 
and if he failed to pass it he had to serve as a 
private soldier. Further, in order to get enough 
soldiers, a system of conscription was intro- 
duced ; that is to say, in every place, out of so 
many thousand men, so many were taken. 

Again, the nobility ceased to be a closed caste 
depending on hereditary titles ; it became a 
class of State servants, and was thrown open to 
all. Rank depended on service. Instead of 
obtaining a post because you were a noble, you 
became a noble for having attained by service to 
such and such a post. Rank in service became 
the only rank. Thus Peter the Great, in order 
to create a standing army, created a standing 
civil service ; he destroyed the principle of 
hereditary aristocracy ; and both branches of 
the universal service he created, military and 
civil, were divided into its fourteen grades or 
tchins, hence the word tchinnovnik, the ordi- 


nary Russian word for official. Again, as he was 
constantly going to war, and constantly needed 
men, and the nobility had to supply so many 
men from their land, he tightened the bonds 
which attached the peasants to the soil. He 
strengthened the system of serfdom; and the 
rulers who succeeded him carried on the same 
policy, because the revenue depended on the 
State being administered by the landed gentry, 
which gradually ceased to be an aristocratic 
caste, and kept on increasing in size, until towards 
the end of the reign of Catherine II., when it had 
grown to be a vast bureaucracy. 

It is clear that, if the great majority of the 
landed proprietors were engaged in administra- 
ting the country, they would have less and less 
time to look after their estates after the old 
patriarchal fashion; and it is also clear that as 
civilization progressed everything in the machin- 
ery of the State necessarily increased in size. 
Men were needed to deal with the more com- 
plicated machinery; with the administration 
of finances, of justice, and of the police. The 
men who filled all the new posts created by the 
ever-increasing complication of the adminis- 


tration of the State were the former landed pro- 
prietors, the actual officials. The consequence 
was they ceased to be able to look after their 
land. This being so, there was no defence left 
against the growing moral sentiment which had 
risen against serf dom, namely ; the moral prin- 
ciple that it was wrong that peasants should 
be in the position of cattle and chattels. This 
sentiment was expressed more than once by 
the peasants themselves in mutinies. It was 
expressed from the outside by all that was 
enlightened in the country. 

The Emperor Alexander I. took the first steps 
towards the great reform by liberating the 
serfs in the Baltic provinces. It is said that his 
brother, the Emperor Nicholas, on his death- 
bed left the execution of the reform as a solemn 
legacy to his son and successor, Alexander II. 
The Crimean War was the actual shock which 
brought the reform about. Literature was a 
powerful factor in pressing it on. Writers of 
genius, such as Gogol and Turgeniev, by their 
descriptions; publicists, such as Samarin and 
Herzen, by their pleading, played a large part in 
accelerating its advent. They gave expression 


to what was the universal and imperative 
opinion of thinking Russia, so that the reform 
when it came about, and when the serfs were 
liberated in 1861, was the ^ork of the nation 
as well as of the Emperor. 

This retrospect has brought us to the year 
1861. Since then many momentous things have 
happened to Russia. A war; the inauguration 
of a system of local self-government; another 
war; and if not a revolution, a revolutionary 
movement, a long and vital crisis, out of which 
rose the beginnings of popular representation. 
But these events, in so far as they deal with 
Russian life as it is to-day, will be dealt with 
in the subsequent chapters. 



Russian peasant is the most important 
factor in Russian life. He constitutes the 
majority of the nation. The peasant not only 
tills the arable land, but he owns the greater 
part of it. This is a fact which is practically 
unknown in England. There was once an an- 
archist Russian who gave a lecture to the poor 
in the East End of London on the wrongs of the 
Russian people. In the course of the lecture 
he declared with fervent indignation that no 
peasant in Russia could own more than so 
many acres of land. Upon which the audience 
cried " Shame ! " The irony of this is piercing 
when one reflects that not one member of that 
audience had ever owned, or could ever in his 
wildest dreams look forward to owning, a particle 
of arable soil. 


The average reader, who has some vague no- 
tions of Russia, probably thinks of the Russian 
peasant as a serf, and as such a scarcely civilized 
savage a little better than a beast. It has 
already been mentioned in the preceding chapter 
that serfdom in Russia was not a slavery resulting 
from conquest or difference in race and colour, 
but the outcome of economic conditions. Serf- 
dom was a measure by which the peasant, who 
had a tendency to wander, was made fast to 
the land, because if he wandered the State was 
threatened with economic ruin ; moral slavery, 
and the ownership of the peasant by the land- 
owner, were the ultimate results of this economic 
measure. When the legislation which ultimately 
produced serfdom was framed, it was not re- 
garded by those who framed it as a permanent 
solution of the relations between landowner and 
peasant, but only as a temporary makeshift. 
The result namely, slavery was unforeseen. 

Now, the peasants never, through nearly two 
centuries of slavery, lost sight of the fact that 
this legislation was only a temporary makeshift, 
a stroke of opportunism. Moreover, they kept 
fast hold of the idea that the land was theirs; 


that the land belonged to the people who tilled 
it ; and that if for a time it was in the hands of 
landowners., that was because the emperor was 
obliged to lend it to the landowners, in order 
to pay them for such military service which 
the destinies of the fatherland rendered indis- 

In 1861 came the emancipation of the serfs, 
and this emancipation did not merely mean 
the end of the personal and moral slavery of the 
peasant, but something far more important also 
namely, that a portion of the land which the 
peasant considered to be his by right was re- 
stored to him. The emancipation of the serfs 
was an act of State expropriation. More than 
130,000,000 desiatines of land (350,964,187 acres) 
passed from the hands of the landowners into 
the hands of the peasants for ever. On an aver- 
age each peasant received from 8 J to 11 acres ; in 
the north he might receive more, in the south less. 
The nobility that is to say, the landowners 
were paid down by the Government for the land 
they had given up ; the peasants had to pay 
back the State in instalments, over a period of 
more than fifty years. The State acted as 


banker to both parties, and not only paid the 
landowners ready money, but advanced the 
money to the peasants. The peasant had to 
pay back the money advanced to him at an 
interest of six per cent, over a period of forty- 
nine years, until the year 1910. 
In 1907 these payments were cancelled. 
The peasants, after the emancipation, were 
to continue to own the land in common, as they 
had always done before. 

In the days of serfdom every landowner pos- 
sessed so much land, and the serfs or, as they 
were called, " the souls " who belonged to it. 
After the emancipation, each batch of serfs 
belonging to each separate owner became a 
separate and independent community, which 
owned land in common. The land which was 
thus owned in common could not be redistributed 
more than once every twelve years, and even 
then only if two-thirds of the village assembly 
voted for redistribution. A similar majority 
was necessary before any of the common land 
could become private property. 

All the land which was fit for cultivation was 
divided amongst the peasants, according to the 


number of taxed members in each household. 
But as the nature of the soil varied with its situa- 
tion, and was richer in one place than another, 
or was more or less advantageous owing to 
other reasons say its proximity or distance 
from the village instead of receiving all his share 
of the land in one place, each taxed member in 
every household received so many strips of land 
in different places, so that the division might be 

Supposing the land to be divided amongst 
Tom, Dick, and Harry was good in some parts, 
bad in another, and indifferent in a third, and 
each was to receive an acre : Tom would receive 
a third in the good part, a third in the bad part, 
and a third in the indifferent part, and Dick 
and Harry would fare likewise. When the land 
was redistributed, the share received by each 
household varied as that household increased 
or diminished in numbers. 

From 1861, the year of the emancipation, 
until 1904, the year of the Russo-Japanese War, 
the only change of importance in the peasant 
system of l#nd tenure was made in the reign of 
Alexander III, A clause was introduced into 


the legislation on peasant land tenure which 
made it impossible for the peasant to buy himself 
out of the Commune. This clause was added in 
1890. It was done because the Government at 
this period looked on the peasants as a safe 
conservative element, and considered that com- 
munal ownership of land fostered conservatism. 
During all this period agriculture had not im- 
proved, but had deteriorated. Half the land- 
owners in Russia disappeared, and their place was 
taken by the peasants or by the merchants. 
The remaining landowners either let their land 
to the peasants, or tried (and for the most part 
failed) to farm it rationally. 

In 1904 came political unrest and universal 
political discontent. And amongst the peasants 
this discontent was expressed by one formula, 
and one formula alone ct Give us more land." 
Agrarian riots took place all over Russia, and 
landowners' houses were burnt and their cattle 

Universal expropriation was brought forward 
as a political measure, but economically it was 
felt by those who had faced the question prac- 
tically to be no remedy., except in regard to the 


land which was let by the landowners to the 

Nevertheless, something had to be done. All 
over Russia every landowner sold a certain 
amount of land to the peasants, and a great part 
of the land which had been hitherto let to the 
peasants, and not farmed by the landowner 
himself, became the peasants' property. In. 1905, 
roughly speaking, twenty-five per cent, of the 
amount of land still belonging to landowners 
passed into the hands of the peasants. 

In 1910 another great change came about. 
Owing to a law, drawn up at the initiative of 
P. A. Stolypin, the peasant obtained the right 
of leaving the Commune, and of converting 
his share of the land into his individual and 
permanent property. He could, moreover, ex- 
change his separated strips of land for a corre- 
sponding amount of land which should be as far 
as possible all in one place. And if he wished 
to do this, and to start a farm, he could receive 
financial assistance from the State. 

On paper, nothing could be more satisfactory, 
the situation seeming to be this that the peasant 
is able to leave the Commune if he wishes and 


become an independent peasant proprietor, but 
he is not compelled to do so. The idea was 
expressed at the time of the emancipation of the 
serfs by the men who drafted the law of reform, 
that it was desirable to leave the question of 
communal tenure to settle itself. And the same 
idea was reasserted by the Russian ministry, 
when the Bill on peasant land tenure was intro- 
duced into the Duma namely, that it would 
be wrong either to bolster up the" Commune 
artificially, or to destroy it, and that the right 
course was to leave the population itself free to 
settle in every individual case whether it wishes 
to remain in the Commune or not. 

Practically this is not what has happened. 
Practically, both owing to certain clauses in the 
law itself, and owing to the manner of its appli- 
cation, pressure has been put on the peasants 
to leave the Commune. The law works ad- 
vantageously for those who leave the Commune, 
disadvantageously for those who wish to remain 
in the Commune. To explain how this happens 
would entail going into many technical points. 
To those who are interested in this subject, I 
would recommend an article in The Russian 


Review of November 1912, by Alexander 
Manuilov, a member of the Russian Council of 

But if it is too lengthy a task to explain how 
this is so, it is easy in a few sentences to explain 
why this is so. 

The law on land tenure was made by the 
bureaucracy. The bureaucracy has always 
treated the peasant question from a political 
point of view. When the communal system 
seemed to lead to conservatism, the bureaucracy 
backed up the communal system (this was so., 
as I have already said, in the reign of Alexan- 
der III., and indeed made it impossible for the 
peasant to leave the Commune) ; when after 
1904 the communal system seemed to encourage 
socialistic ideas, or to be made a basis for social- 
istic ideas, the bureaucracy backed up individual 
land tenure. Moreover, in the law itself and in 
the manner of its application the minority (those 
who wish to leave the Commune) are backed 
up at the expense of the majority, because by 
so doing the Government considered they were 
creating good sound conservative voters. 

In spite of this pressure, and perhaps because 


of it (although in some parts of Russia they 
have displayed eagerness to become the per- 
manent owners of their respective strips of 
land), up till 1910, only four per cent, of the 
peasantry availed themselves of the right to ex- 
change their strips for an allotment in one place ; 
and up till January 1, 1912, the Communes 
who petitioned for deeds numbered only 4,656; 
and out of 45,994 Communes, only 174,193 
petitions were forthcoming, which shows a 
proportion of one in every three or four. 

It is, of course, too soon to generalize on the 
result of such recent legislation. Comparisons 
and analogies with similar legislation in other 
countries such as Ireland, for instance would 
be misleading, for the existence of the Commune 
is peculiar in Russia. At the present moment 
the Russian peasant owns land. He either 
owns strips in the land belonging to the Com- 
mune, shares which are liable to periodical redis- 
tribution, or else he has become the permanent 
owner of his strips, or else he has exchanged 
them for an allotment and started a farm. 

At the present moment the peasants own by 
far the greater part of the arable land in Russia, 


and every family owns in arable land at least six 
acres ; and on an average in the densely popu- 
lated districts, at least 10 acres. In the more 
thinly populated districts of the north and 
south., the average increases. 

It is clear then that the peasant is an im- 
portant unit, the most important unit in the 
nation. It is well then to look into the nature 
of this important unit, and to see what kind of 
being he is, and what are the mainsprings of his 

At the outset there probably exists certain 
preconceived notions which it is as well to get 
rid of at once. 

. The first of these is that there is anything ser- 
vile about the Russian peasant because during 
two centuries he endured serfdom. " In spite 
of the period of serfdom through which he has 
passed/' writes Sir Charles Eliot in his Turkey 
in Europe and Sir Charles Eliot possesses 
first-hand knowledge of Russia " the Russian 
muzhik is not servile ; he thinks of God and the 
Tsar in one category, and of the rest of the world 
as more or less equal in another. 5 ' 

And Dostoievsky, in writing about Pushkin, 


says that one of this poet's chief claims to great- 
ness is that he recognized the intrinsic quality 
of self-respect in the Russian people, which they 
proved by the manly dignity of their behaviour 
when they were liberated from serfdom. 

The Russian people, in spite of centuries of 
serfdom, with the exception of individual in- 
stances, were not and never have been slaves. 

So much, I think, can be stated without fear 
of contradiction or controversy. Before going 
any further I want to clear the ground a little. 
The reader must be prepared to find, not only in 
foreign books about Russia, but in Russian 
books about Russia, and to meet with in con- 
versation not only from foreigners who have 
travelled and lived in Russia, but in conver- 
sation with the Russians themselves, widelv 
divergent and contradictory ideas and opinions 
with regard to the nature of the Russian peasant, 
He will hear on one side that he is intelligent, 
on the other that he is crassly obtuse. On the 
one hand that he is humane, on the other hand 
that he is brutal. He will find in Russian 
literature that by some writers he is exalted as 
the salt of the earth and the solution of life, 


and that by others he is decried as a hopeless, 
inert mass of ignorance and prejudices. M. 
Leroy Beaulieu in his Empire des Tsars tells a 
story of how once, when he was travelling on the 
Volga, a " lady said to him, ' How can you 
bother yourself about our muzhik ? he is a brute, 
out of which nobody will ever be able to make 
a man ; ' and how on the same day a landed 
proprietor said to him, c I consider the con- 
tadino of North Italy to be the most intelligent 
peasant in Europe, but our muzhik could give 
him points. 3 " 

Further, most Russians will tell you that 
the peasant will rarely give himself away, and 
that to the outside observer of another class he 
probably is, and will always remain, a sealed 
book. The net result of all this is that readers 
may justly say to me, u And what can you 
know about the subject ? " And it is to this 
very question that I think I owe some sort of 
reply before continuing to say anything else 
about the nature of the Russian peasant. 

My claims to be in a position to say certain 
things whicti I have got first hand about the 
Russian peasant are not, it is true, great ; but I 


believe them to exist. They do not rest on 
what is called erudition. I am no expert in the 
difficult problems, economic and others, which 
are connected with the life of the Russian peas- 
antry ; but it so happens that I have been thrown 
together, so to speak, with the Russian peasant 
under peculiar circumstances. During the years 
I have spent in Russia I have made friends with 
peasants in various places, and have often in 
travelling had much talk and intercourse with 
them. But it is not chiefly on that that I base 
my observations it is on this : that being in 
Manchuria during the greater part of the Russo- 
Japanese War, as I drifted about from one part 
of the army to another I was thrown together 
with the Russian soldier, who is a peasant, 
often on terms of absolute equality ; that is to 
say, I was to him no longer a barin (one of the 
upper classes), but a kind of camp follower, of 
which there were multitudes in Manchuria during 
the war a man who, in their eyes, had a barin 
himself. On one occasion I was asked where 
my barin (master) was, and when I said I was my 
own barin, the peasant who was talking to me 
said he thought I was just a common man. 


Thus on many occasions I met, travelled with, 
and bivouacked with soldiers on their own 
footing, and shared their food, lodging, and 
talk on equal 'terms. And it was this experience 
which gave me glimpses into things, and an 
insight into certain manners and customs, which 
I should otherwise have ignored. The know- 
ledge that I thus gleaned was confirmed to me 
by my subsequent travel in Russia, especially 
by journeys which I sometimes made in third- 
class carriages. But all this would not be in 
itself sufficient to give me any right to talk about 
the Russian peasant. All this would have given 
me the material, but not the means of using it. 
I base my claim to right of using it on one simple 
fact : I like the Russian peasant very much. 

In speaking of Pushkin's love of the Russian 
peasant, Dostoievsky says : " Do not love me 
but love mine (that is to say, love what I love). 
That is what the people says when it wishes to 
test the sincerity of your love. Every member 
of the gentry, especially if he is humane and 
enlightened, can love, that is to say, sympathize 
with the people on account of its want, poverty, 
and suffering. But what the people needs is 


not that you should love it for its. sufferings, 
but for itself ; and what does c love it for itself 3 
signify ? If you love what I love, honour 
what I honour. That is what it means,, and that 
is what the people will answer to in you ; and 
if it be otherwise, the man of the people will 
never count you as his own, however great your 
distress may be on his account." 

Well, in saying that I like the Russian peasant 
very much, I mean that I honour what he honours, 
and his way of looking at life ; his standards of 
right and wrong seem to me the sound and true. 
It is for this reason that, in afl hu&dSty? "f 
claim the right of deducing certain statements 
from the experience that I have had amongst the 
Russian people, and in laying them before the 
English reader. 

Now as to the chief characteristics of the 
Russian peasant. In the first place, and most 
important of all, he is intensely religious, and his 
religion is based on common sense. 

44 Mysticism," Mr. Chesterton once wrote, 
46 was with Carlyle, as with all its genuine pro- 
fessors, only a transcendent form of common 
sense* Mysticism and common sense alike con- 


sist in a sense of the dominance of certain truths 
which cannot be formally demonstrated. 53 

In this sense the Russian peasant is a mystic. 
His religion does not come to him through books 
or study or spiritual sciences, but it is the out- 
come of his experience, and of a very hard and 
bitter experience. The first and cardinal point 
of the peasant's whole outlook on life is that he 
believes in God, and that he sees the will of God 
in all things, and that he regards a man who 
disbelieves in God as something abnormal, and 
as something not only abnormal but silly. He 
believes in God because it seems to him non- 
sensical not to do so. 

It would be easy to call as witnesses on this 
point a host of the most famous names in Russian 
literature. But the objection might be made 
(a false objection in my opinion, but still it 
might be made) that writers and poets idealize 
reality, and see in others what they feel in them- 
selves or what they want to see ; so from Rus- 
sian literature I will only call one witness, and 
that is N. Garin, an engineer, who bought a 
property in the country and devoted many 
years solely to farming it, and was thus brought 


into daily constant and intimate touch and com- 
munication with the peasants. 

He begins relating his experiences thus : " By 
my conversations and intercourse with the 
peasants I could not help becoming acquainted 
with their inner life. As I got to know them I 
was struck on the one hand by their strength, 
patience, endurance, and by an inflexibility which 
attained to greatness, which made it easy to under- 
stand how the kingdom of Russia had come to 
be. On the other hand, I met with obduracy, 
routine, and a dull hostility to every innovation, 
which made it easy to understand why the Rus- 
sian peasant lives so miserably. Two brothers 
lived in a village. One was married and the 
other was a bachelor. The married brother 
has five children and a wife, but is himself the 
only bread-winner ; the unmarried brother lives 
in the family, and helps in the work with all his 
might, but he is old and ill. The married 
brother falls sick and dies. The old man is left 
with the family on his hands ; he sets about to 
support it with the slender strength at his dis- 
posal. There are no savings, nothing put by. 
In the cottage half-naked children are running 


about, all with colds ; they are crying ; the 
cottage is cold, the atmosphere is foul, the calf 
squeals, the dead man is lying on the shelf, and 
on the face of the old man there is an expres- 
sion of calm, as if all that were quite natural 
and had to be so. 

" ' It will be hard for you to feed eight mouths 
all by yourself ? ' I ask, 

" f And God ? ' he answered. 

" God is all. Starvation is beckoning through 
the half-broken little window of the rotting house ; 
the last bread-winner dies ; there is a heap of 
children ; the sister-in-law (the only woman) is 
sick ; there is no money for the funeral ; and he, 
being questioned as to his lot, answers, c And 
God ? ' And you feel something inexpressibly 
strong, unconquerable, and great." 

I will supplement this story with a little piece 
of first-hand evidence which I gathered myself. 
This is only one instance out of a great many 
which I have come across in the course of my 
various sojourns in Russia. 

It was in a small provincial town some years ago, 
in the winter. I was walking late in the evening 
down one of the larger streets. It had been 


thawing, and the streets and the pavements were 
sloshy. It was dark. Just as I was reaching a 
street corner which faced a large open place, I 
became aware of the sound of muffled, persistent 
sobs. I looked round, and I saw sitting on the 
pavement, with his back to the wall, a little 
boy, a peasant's child, who was softly crying 
his eyes out. He was sobbing slowly, not loudly, 
but persistently ; not whining, or crying in the 
kind of way children cry when they fall down or 
quarrel, but he seemed to be sobbing out of the 
fullness of his little heart. He was not trying 
to attract attention, nor did he pay attention 
to me or to any one else. He seemed quite 
unconscious of the surrounding world, and 
plunged in his own grief. I stopped and asked 
him what was the matter. He answered that 
his father had sent him to the town to buy 
something (I forget what it was), and had given 
him the money, and that the money had been 
taken away from him. It was quite a small sum. 
He was afraid to go home. I at once gave him 
the money, and the little boy stood up, dried his 
eyes, and crossed himself. Then, without a word, 
he went home. He thanked God: it was not 


necessary to thank any one else. And I never 
saw anything like the expression of gratitude on 
his face as he crossed himself ; but to me he did 
not say one word. What was the use ? It was 
God who had come to his rescue, not I; you 
might just as well thank the violin after a 
concert for the beauty of the music. 

This is only the story of a child ; but the child 
in Russia, just as anywhere else, is father of 
the man. 

It is difficult to bring home to the average 
Englishman the way in which religion enters 
into the daily life of the Russians, and especially 
into the daily life of the peasants* How often 
have I heard it said, how often have I read in 
newspapers, of the dark superstition into which 
the Russian people is plunged ! If it be super- 
stitious to regard religion not as a rather dis- 
agreeable episode belonging exclusively to Sunday, 
then the Russian peasant is superstitious indeed. 
If it be superstitious to cherish no mauvaise 
honte with regard to religion, not to be ashamed 
of talking about God as a matter of fact, of 
saying one's prayers in public, of going to Mass 
on Sundays and holidays, of fasting during 


Lent and othei seasons of merrymaking at 
Easter, of crossing yourself before meals, of in- 
voking the Saints, of revering images and 
relics, then the Russian peasant is superstitious 
indeed. But you must not put down such super- 
stition to ignorance, for it has been shared by men 
such as Saint Augustine, Sir Thomas More, Lord 
Acton, and Pasteur none of them what you 
would call ignorant men. 

Sometimes the traveller will note the fact that 
the Russian peasant will prostrate himself over 
and over again before an image, or cross himself 
over and over again mechanically. He will 
say the thing is an idle form that has no spiritual 
significance. He will be wrong. The Russian 
peasant fulfills the form and ritual of his re- 
ligion as a matter of course. He is not more 
superstitious in the fulfilling of them than an 
Englishman is superstitious when he uncovers 
his head before the colours of a regiment. In 
the case of a Russian peasant his meticulous 
observance of ritual and form is just as much a 
matter of course to him, it is just as much based 
on common sense as that inflexible belief in 
God and the working and will of Providence 


which Garin so pointedly illustrates in the 
passage I have quoted above. 

The Russian peasant sees things in their true 
proportion. He believes in God, as a matter of 
course, because it is plain to him that God 
exists. He goes to church and observes the for- 
malities of his religion because it is plain to him 
that is the right thing to do, just as it is plain 
to the ordinary English citizen that it is right to 
stand up when "God save the King" is being sung. 

The Russian peasant may be, and can be, and 
often is, as superstitious as you like about other 
things, but his superstition does not proceed 
from his religion. His superstitions are likewise 
a matter of tradition ; he believes in the domovoi. 
for instance, the spirit that inhabits houses, 
well known once to the English peasantry, under 
the name of the hobgoblin; Milton calls him 
the drudging goblin : 

" And lie by Friar's lantern led 
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat 
To earn the cream bowl duly set, 
When in one night, ere glimpse of man, 
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn 
That ten day labourers could not end, 
Then lies him down, the lubber-fiend, 


And, stretched out all the chimney's length, 
Basks at the fire his hairy strength, 
And crop-full, out of doors he flings, 
Ere the first cock his matin rings." 

The domovoi in Russia is merely supposed 
to inhabit houses. I do not think he is ever 
suspected of working. He is good-natured but 
capricious. Each house has its goblin. He sits 
in the corner underground. If you move from 
one house to another you must give notice to 
the goblin and summon him to come with you. 
If you forget to do this, the goblin will be offended, 
and stay where he is left, and show marked 
hostility to the domovoi brought by a new tenant. 
The two goblins will fight ; china and furniture 
will be broken ; and this will go on until the first 
householder comes and invites the goblin to his 
new house. Then everything will be all right 
once more. 

Garin says that he once said to a peasant : 
" What, in your opinion, is the domovoi the 
devil ? " 

The peasant, quite offended, answered : " Why 
should he be the devil ? He does no harm." 

" Then is he an angel ? " 


" God forbid ! How can he be an angel 
seeing that he's hairy ? " 

So the peasant agrees with Milton in thinking 
that the hobgoblin's hide is covered with hair. 

The hobgoblin plays the part of a kind of 
moral barometer to the family, foretelling good 
or bad fortune. At supper- time he is heard to 
move, and then the elder of the family asks 
whether good or evil is impending. If it be 
bad, the domovoi says, " Hu " (Hudo being the 
Russian for bad) ; and if good, he mutters, 
" D ... D ... D ... D ..." (Dobro being the 
Russian for good). 

To sum up the whole matter briefly, the re- 
ligion of the Russian peasant is, if you analyze 
it (a thing which the peasant would, of course, 
never do), a working hypothesis of the world; 
or, to take Matthew Arnold's phrase, a criticism 
of life ; and it is more, a solution, a philosophy 
which he has evolved not from books, not from 
professors or teachers, but from life itself. It 
is the fruit of his native common sense. In 
this observance of the forms of religion he like- 
wise follows what has for him the sanction (a) 
of common sense ; (fc) of immemorial custom. 


Such a point of view one would think at first 
sight was not difficult to grasp. Experience has 
led me to believe that it is difficult for English 
people to grasp it. They go to Russia ; they see 
the peasants prostrating themselves in churches, 
kissing images, taking off their hats as they pass 
churches ; they see crowds feasting on Saint 
days ; they see pilgrims asking for and receiving 
alms. And they say, " What backward people ! 
How superstitious ! " Or again (which is much 
worse) they say kindly, " What charming people. 
How picturesque ! " In the first case they are 
being consciously superior, and in the second 
case they are being unconsciously condescending. 

In the first case they are simply pitying 
people for what they consider retrograde and 
backward ; in the second case they are expressing 
an admiration whose real source is contempt. 
They do not know it is contempt, but it is. 
Their belief in their own superiority is so sure, 
and so sound, that they no more question it than 
the Russian peasant questions his belief in God. 

It is the same good-natured, easy-going con- 
tempt an English workman feels for foreign 
workmen when he happens to work abroad. 


' I know of a case of an English gardener who 
was employed in a French country-house. An 
Englishman who was there asked him how he 
liked the French. 

" Oh ! the French are all right," he said, " if 
you treat them well. They are quite will- 
ing. You mustn't bully them. You must 
treat them nicely and kindly. Of course you 
can't expect them to work like Englishmen" He 
talked of them good-naturedly, tolerantly, as 
if they were men of another race, and laboured 
under some great radical natural disadvantage 
through no fault of their own. Had he been 
talking of negroes instead of the inhabitants of 
Tile de France you would not have been surprised. 

This is exactly the attitude of the many 
English travellers, and of certain English 
residents in Russia, towards the Russian people. 
They do not, since they are not taught it at 
school neither in board schools nor in private 
schools, nor in public schools, nor in grammar 
schools, and least of all at the universities 
know that once the whole of Europe, and espe- 
cially the English, looked on religion as the 
Russian peasants do now ; or if they do know 


this, they thank Heaven that some parts of 
Europe, and in any case the English, have out- 
grown this backward ignorance and this dark 

It is true, and it is only fair to state, that this 
attitude towards the religion of the Russian 
peasant is shared to some extent, but in a quite 
different manner, by the Russian educated 
classes, and more especially by the semi-edu- 
cated. Of this I will write later in greater 
detail. But there is this great difference the 
Russian educated and semi-educated classes 
may sometimes think these religious ideas of the 
Russian peasants childish ; but not because 
they look on the peasant as a kind of inferior 
being, a savage or a " native." They think 
the peasant's religion is childish, because they 
think all religion is childish (whether the Pope's, 
the Patriarch's, the Archbishop of Canterbury's, 
Mrs. Eddy's, Mahomet's, or Buddha's), a thing 
which they have outgrown. But, as one Russian 
writer has pointed out, the Russian intellectuals 
are, on an average, not superior but inferior to 
the idea of religion, for they have never experi- 
enced it; and it is here that their attitude 


resembles that of the average Englishman. The 
average Englishman considers himself religiously 
almost immeasurably above the Russian peasant 
in enlightenment ; it has never struck him that 
he may be below him. And until this humble 
thought strikes him, he will never be able 
to understand the religion of the Russian 

I was once talking to a lady who had been 
to Moscow about Russia. She said Moscow 
was very interesting, but she added : "I sup- 
pose it's dreadful of me to say it, but all those 
mosques " (and by the mosques she meant the 
Cathedral and the Christian churches, which in 
their rites and customs probably resemble the 
early centuries of Christianity more closely 
than any in Europe) "were always so full of 
poor people, and such dirty people." The 
idea of a church being a place where no dis- 
tinction was made between rich and poor, 
where rich and poor could enter at any time of 
the day, where rich and poor jostled each other 
and crowded together in dense crowds to hear 
Mass on Sunday, was an idea entirely new and 
entirely foreign to her. And in expressing 


this, I venture to think she was below and 
not above the Russian peasant's standard of 

With regard to superstition, superstition is to 
the Russian peasant a thing quite apart from 
religion. It fills up a gap for him. In the 
region of the inexplicable, all matters that re- 
ligion does not deal with, such as omens, the 
peasant puts down to other agencies, harmless 
agencies as a rule, such as hobgoblins ; and 
here again he follows custom. 

I have said that the basis of the Russian 
peasant's religion is common sense. Common 
sense is likewise the backbone or the mainspring 
of his material as well as of his spiritual exist- 
ence, the key to his methods of work and his 
manner of play, his social code, his habits and 
customs ; in a word, to his practice as well as 
to his theory. 

In the past much has been written on his 
backwardness, his obduracy, his love of routine, 
his persistence in remaining in old grooves, his 
hatred of innovation, his hostility towards all 
forms of progress. There is, of course, in many 
individual cases, a great deal of truth in these 


charges, but there is something else to be said 
as well. People are now beginning to say that 
often what at first sight appears to be wilful 
obduracy and blind and senseless conservatism 
is, in nine cases out of ten, merely the choice of 
the lesser of two evils, a choice obviously dictated 
by common sense. 

It is now being largely recognized by practical 
experts in agriculture in Russia, that the reason 
the peasant obstinately adhered to antiquated 
methods and turned a deaf ear to modern im- 
provements and innovations, was not always 
that he was stupid, and not necessarily that he 
was obstinate, but that the improvements and 
the innovations suggested to him., although 
admirable in themselves, were, given his par- 
ticular circumstances, likely to cause him more 
harm than good; the main fact being that 
he was too poor to take advantage of them; 
that the older method was the lesser evil, 
the newer method being the cause of a greater 

I will give a few instances of what I 

It is an admitted fact in countries that have 


a continental climate that the earth will only 
retain a sufficient quantity of moisture if it is 
ploughed early in spring and remains ploughed 
throughout the summer. Consequently the fal- 
low land should be ploughed early in spring for 
the winter-sown crops. The peasant knows this 
well, but he does not plough early in spring, 
he ploughs late in summer ; but if ,you ask him 
why, he puts to you the unanswerable question, 
" Where shall I put my cattle, if I plough early 
in the spring ? " the only place for his cattle 
being the fallow land, since all the remaining 
part of his land consists of growing crops. As 
soon as the harvest is over he can, of course, 
use the stubble for his cattle. This is an instance 
of what seems to be at first sight backward 
obstinacy, and is in reality expediency the 
choice of the lesser evil, dictated by common 

At one time every effort was being made to 
persuade the peasant to use a modern improved 
plough instead of the primitive instrument he 
preferred, which resembled that in use in the 
days of Abraham. He often refused to do |so ; 
but why ? Not because he had anything against 


the new plough, as an instrument, but because 
if he had not enough capital to buy one (its 
cost being 50 roubles = 5), and if he borrowed 
money from a rich peasant to do so, he risked 
losing all his substance; he risked being sold 
up in order to pay his debts. So in this case, 
the old-fashioned plough (which cost him only 
five roubles = 10s.) was a lesser evil than com- 
plete ruin. 

But, on the other hand, it has now been 
proved that as soon as the peasant can get the 
necessary capital, as soon as he can obtain credit 
from co-operative credit associations, he does not 
hesitate to buy iron ploughs, or even Canadian 
corn-cutters, or any modern implement you like 
to mention. 

Scientific agriculture is being widely taught at 
the present moment in Russia. Agricultural 
colleges are spreading, and the number of agri- 
cultural students is every day increasing. But 
it is the firm conviction of the most learned 
of the scientific agriculturists that all you can 
do for the peasant is to open for him doors on 
possibilities of teaching him what can be done ; 
but that if it comes to teaching him how to do a 


thing, you cannot. Bfe ; knows how to do every- 
thing much better than any theorist. Centuries 
of close and constant contact with the soil have 
taught him more than all the learning and all 
the theory in the world. You can bring to his 
notice new methods for him to try, new experi- 
ments ; you can submit new possibilities to 
him; you can enlarge his horizon to any ex- 
tent ; you can educate him ; you can provide 
him with new instruments ; but in the practical 
use and application of knowledge it is he who 
will teach you, and not you who will teach 
him. He has the experience that only practice 
and centuries of practice can give. 

Not long ago one of the best known of the 
scientific Russian agriculturists spoke in this 
sense to some young students. He bade them 
remember that their whole task consisted in 
suggesting possibilities to the peasants ; but if 
they met with opposition, they must never in- 
sist, for the peasant probably knew best, his 
knowledge being the fruit of the accumulated 
experience of countless generations. I believe, 
and I know that many Russians agree with me, 
that the history, the life, the philosophy, and 


the religion of the Russian peasants illustrate 
one immense fact : that the majority is always 
right in the long run. Vox populi, vox Dei. He 
may have temporary aberrations ; but give him 
time, in the long rim his view will be the right 

But some one may say, " Surely you do not 
wish to advance the dangerous and doctrinaire 
view that the land should be entirely in the 
hands of the peasant; for you have already 
stated that the peasant believes that the land 
is his, and that all the land should be in the 
hands of those that till it ? Surely you are not 
in faf our of the wholesale expropriation of land 
of the total abolition of landlords ? " 

My answer to this is, " Yes, I think the peas- 
ant is right in the long run, and I think he is 
right in thinking that in the long run the land 
not only should be, but will be, his." 

At the present moment there are two kinds 
of landowners in Russia : 

1. Absentee landowners, who rent their land 
to the peasant on short leases (on an average 
from one to six years) without sinking any capital 

either in buildings or in any other improve- 



ments.* A large portion (as I have already 
said) of the land thus rented to peasants by 
absentee landlords was sold to the peasants 
(with the assistance of the State land banks) in 
1905 ; and it is generally admitted that the 
remainder, all the land still rented to the peas- 
ants, should become their permanent property. 
This is what is actually happening (slowly and 
gradually), with the assistance, again, of land 

With regard to the land farmed by the land- 
owners, the question is different. Such farming 
is carried on, as a rule, on a very large scale, 
at a great expenditure of capital, which is sunk 
in the land. 

At one time (in 1905) wholesale and immediate 
expropriation of all the land owned by the land- 
owners was advocated by some political parties 
and individuals as the solution of the land ques- 
tion in Russia. 

* From this will be seen the difference between a Russian absentee 
landowner and an English landlord. The English landlord is essen- 
tially a partner in the farming, even if he does not farm the land 
himself, because he will always sink a certain amount of capital in, 
buildings and their upkeep, whereas the Russian absentee land- 
owner invests no capital in anything : he merely receives the rent. 
In some cases even the lanA favxes are paid by the tenant. 


But a wholesale act of expropriation, if put 
into force immediately, would not only bring 
about an economic crisis affecting the landowner, 
but it would reduce the standard of farming 
and diminish the productive capacity of [the land, 
and impoverish the peasants themselves. 

The peasants, possessing little or no capital, 
would not be able to maintain the high standard 
of farming carried on by the landowners ; and if 
the land hitherto farmed on this high standard 
were suddenly to be made over to them, they 
would earn less by trying to farm it without 
capital than they earn at present by working 
on the landowners' land. 

If, then, wholesale and immediate expropria- 
tion is out of the question as a wise, practical, 
and beneficent measure, why and how is the 
peasant right in looking forward to the day 
when all the land will belong to him ? 

Before such a state of things can be brought 
about, two things must happen to the peasant. 
He must acquire (a) capital, (b) a wider instruc- 
tion in agricultural methods and a more exten- 
sive general instruction in a word, a better 


This is actually happening now. The peas- 
ant is enabled to acquire capital through the 
existence of co-operative credit associations and 
land banks. And everywhere now, all over 
Russia, agricultural schools are increasing and 
instruction in improved agricultural methods is 
spreading. The creation of a body of agricul- 
tural experts stationed throughout the country 
under the supervision of the county councils, in 
order to advise the peasants and farmers on 
matters of agriculture, and the establishment 
of experimental farming stations on a compre- 
hensive scale, have done this. 

When the peasant will be in possession of suffi- 
cient capital and instruction (and there does 
not appear to be anything Utopian in this pros- 
pect) in order to compete with the landowner 
who farms his own land, he will gradually oust 
the landowner altogether. Once possessed of 
the same means as the landlord, he will not only 
be his equal, but his superior ; he will supersede 
him ; he will be the master of the situation, and 
in the long run he will become ipso facto the 
owner of all the arable land in Russia ; and the 
change could thus come about without any eco- 


nomic crisis, and without imperilling the inter- 
ests of the State. 

People may perhaps wonder why, during the 
revolutionary ferment of 1905-6, when there was 
so much talk of expropriation in the air, when 
there was so much agricultural disturbance all 
over Russia, the peasants did not simply take 
all the land belonging to the landowners. It 
is not a sufficient answer to say the soldiery, 
remaining loyal, prevented any such thing. The 
soldiers are peasants, and there was probably not 
one soldier among them who was not convinced 
that the land belonged to the tillers of it by 

It will perhaps not be thought fantastic if I 
here again repeat, as an answer to this question, 
the democratic theory, which I know is so dis- 
tasteful to many, that the majority are always 
right; that the peasants, in a vague and inar- 
ticulate fashion, vaguely knew or dimly felt that 
if they did such a thing the only immediate 
result would be wholesale anarchy ; and that it 
was their fundamental common sense which un- 
consciously led them to insist on the partial 
sale of the land let to them by the landowners, 


and to rest contented for the moment with this 
preliminary step. They would, of course, not 
be able to explain the matter thus ; but this 
was in all probability the explanation of their 

I repeat here, lest the reader should think I 
am foisting on him fantastic stuff and idealistic 
theory, that the individual peasant is as often 
as not obstinate, lazy, and backward; that all 
the peasants are in need not only of wider 
instruction in agricultural methods, but also 
of general all-round education. 

The individual peasant would not come out 
with any theory as to the lesser of two evils ; 
he would probably defend his backward practice 
as being the best, or as being that which had 
always been followed. 

Nevertheless, in spite of this, those habits of 
the peasant which are the result of accumulated 
experience have, if you look into them, a funda- 
mental basis of common sense, even though the 
individual peasant may be unaware of the fact. 
The immemorial popular tradition and custom, 
the stored and accumulated wisdom of the peas- 
antry (to which the immense quantity of popular 


proverbs and saws which exist in Russia are as 
the leaves are to a tree) according to which they 
act as a body, will be found to be sound and right 
in the long-run, although the average individual 
peasant may be unable to give any reason for ac- 
cepting and following the dictates of that wisdom 
which is his inheritance ; he may be not only 
incapable of defining it, he may be unaware of its 
existence. But as a member of the community 
to which he belongs he will nevertheless apply 
that wisdom, as circumstances call for it, and 
express it by the acts of his daily life ; and his 
individual voice will be a part of that larger 
voice which has sometimes been thought to be 
identical with the voice of God. 



r ~FHE very word nobility in connection with 
* Russia is misleading. There is no English 
word which is the equivalent of the Russian 
word for nobility dvorianstvo. In French, there 
are two words, noblesse de cour, which correspond 
to the Russian word. 

The Russian word dvorianin, which we trans- 
late, for want of a better word, noble, means a 
man attached to a Court, and courtier would be 
the right translation, if courtier did not happen 
to mean something else. The Russian noble is 
a Court servant, who is entitled by the service he 
renders to the State to an hereditary rank. 
Nobility accrues by right to the man who has 
reached a certain definite step or tchin in the 
army or in the civil service. 
The service, moreover, is open to everybody 


who can pass a certificate examination at the 
end of his school time. During the whole of 
the eighteenth century, and the first part of the 
nineteenth century, from the reign of Peter the 
Great to the end of the reign of Alexander L, 
every single officer of the nobility army, and 
every single civil servant holding an equivalent 
rank, became ipso facto a noble. 

The lowest rank in the army, that of an en- 
sign, conferred the right of nobility.* 

Later on, in 1822, in 1845, and in 1855, the 
grade which conferred hereditary nobility was 

The net result of all this is that (a) the nobility 
as a class is enormous (in European Russia the 
hereditary nobility number about 600,000) ; (b) 
there can be nothing aristocratic about, such a 

This does not mean that the descendants of 
old families do not exist in Russia. Such fami- 

* Besides this hereditary nobility there -was what is called per- 
sonal nobility, which was not hereditary. (This fact is without 
any great importance ; it simply means that when bureaucracy was 
established in Russia it was necessary to distinguish between higher 
and lower grades of public servants, and personal nobility simply 
conferred rights of independence, at a time when only nobles and 
public servants possessed any such recognized rights.) 

3 a 


lies exist, and are, perhaps, more ancient than 
any in Europe. Moreover, a certain number of 
names and families stand out amidst the en- 
circling obscurity, some of them illustrious with 
an almost fabulous antiquity, like names in a 
saga or an epic, and others illustrious from great 
services rendered in more modern times, Rus- 
sian history is " bright with names that men 
remember ; 5? on the one hand names recalling 
those of the Knights of the Round Table or the 
heroes of the Niebelungenlied, on the other 
hand names resembling that, say, of the Duke 
of Wellington. 

Titles have little to do with the matter: amongst 
this little band of the illustrious, some of the 
families have titles of recent origin; others, 
again, almost incredibly remote both in lineage 
and fame, have no titles at all. 

The great mass of the nobility have neither 
title nor any outward sign to distinguish them 
from the herd of nobles, with the exception of 
the collateral branches of the royal family. 

Russia was originally a conglomeration of small 
principalities (all descending from, all collateral 
branches of, one prince), grouped at one time 


under the leadership of Kiev, and later on ab- 
sorbed by the principality of Moscow, which 
eventually became first a kingdom, and then the 
kingdom. When Moscow absorbed all the minor 
principalities, the princes, bereft of their prin- 
cipalities, still retained their titles. " Prince " is, 
therefore, the only true Russian title that exists 
in Russia. 

The titles of graf (count) and baron are bor- 
rowed from Western Europe. There is no word 
either for count or baron in the Russian lan- 
guage, and the German terms are used. These 
titles are confined to a few families, and are either 
titles of recent creation, conferred by the sove- 
reign for special services, or they denote families 
of foreign extraction and origin. 

About two-thirds of the princely families 
descend from the ancient sovereigns of Russia, 
and about forty of them go as far back as Rurick, 
the oldest of all Russian sovereigns. Such are 
the families of the Dolgoruky, Bariatinsky, 
Obolensky, Gortchakov, Khovansky, Galitsin, 

As far as lineage and antiquity are concerned, 
these families are as old as any in Europe ; but 


in spite of the existence of these ancient f amilies, 
whose ramifications are innumerable (for in- 
stance, there are about three or four hundred 
Galitsins, male and female), there is no such 
thing in Russia as a political aristocracy. 

One of the causes of this state of things is 
probably the democratic system which prevails 
in every Russian family, be it that of a prince 
or of a peasant, of dividing property equally 
amongst the whole family ; and as the title 
is likewise inherited by every member of the 
family as the process of subdivision goes on, it 
sometimes happens that the sole inheritance of 
the descendant of an illustrious family is his 

One would have thought this constant process 
of subdivision inust have ultimately decimated all 
the large estates in Russia. It probably would 
have done so had it not been for the size of the 
country, the perpetual opening out of new ter- 
ritory, the unceasing colonization of such rem- 
nants, and the consequent rise in the value of 

Moreover, the division of property is made 
among the male members of the family only 


Tlie female members of a family receive only a 
fourteenth share of the patrimony ; they receive 
a marriage portion, and sometimes nothing be- 

There is also in Russia, as everywhere else, 
what the French would call " une aristocratie 
mondaine." Even here there is less spirit of 
caste than in other European countries. It is 
impossible to define what constitutes and what 
limits this society in Russia, just as it is im- 
possible to define what constitutes the limits 
of any such society anywhere. It has nothing 
necessarily to do with the governing class, and 
nothing to do with the great mass of the nobility, 
and nothing necessarily to do with illustrious 
names or services, and is hall-marked neither by 
wealth nor by titles, but by a freemasonry of 
manner and culture. It is a society consisting 
of many separate groups, which live their own 
life and touch each other at certain points. 
Thus in St. Petersburg there is an erste Gesett- 

* It is perhaps as well to note here that the Russian law counter- 
balances this state of affairs by giving the right to women, even during 
the lifetime of their husbands, of enjoying and administrating then- 
own property. The Russian woman is not a minor in the eyes of the 
law as in France. 


schaft, who all talk French as a matter of course, 
and very often English as well, and who at one 
time talked French better than their own lan- 
guage. The younger generation of this class, 
however, know Russian well. 

Thus it is that in speaking of the Russian 
nobility as a whole and as a class and it is a 
vast class the English reader must put out of 
his head all ideas of aristocracy such as it ex- 
isted in England, France, Germany, Spain, and 
Italy, and realize the following facts : 

1. The noble in Russia is a State servant. 

2. Any one can enter the State service if he 

passes the requisite examination. 

3. The attainment of a certain rank in the 

State service carries with it the rights of 
hereditary nobility. 

4. There is no political aristocracy in Russia. 

5. Until 1861 only the nobility had the right 

to own land in, Russia. 

6. There is no such thing as a territorial aristo- 

cracy in Russia. 

How is it, then, that if until this year 1861 
the nobility alone had the right of owning land 
in Russia, there is no such thing as a territorial 


aristocracy ? And how is it, if innumerable 
descendants of old princely families exist at the 
present moment in Russia, there is no such thing 
as a political aristocracy ? 

The answer to these two questions is to be 
found in the history of the past, and, without 
going into any elaborate historical disquisition, 
the roots of the matter are fairly easy to 

In the earlier times of Russian history, long 
before the invasion of the Tartars, before the 
Norman Conquest in England, Russia was di- 
vided into principalities, which were governed by 
princes. Every prince had a body of followers, 
who constituted around his person a kind of 
armed militia. This militia was called the 
druzhina. Its members were free. They could 
serve whom they pleased. They could pass from 
the service of one prince to another. Out of this 
class of armed servants arose the boyars, who 
were likewise the voluntary servants of the 
princes, and who could serve whichever prince 
they pleased. They were naturally inclined to 
choose the richest and most powerful prince, and 
thus they were attracted to the Court of Moscow, 


and thus the minor principaKties became weaker 
in resources and poorer in followers, and were 
gradually absorbed one after another by the 
Grand Duchy of Moscow. And when Moscow 
became the central and predominant kingdom 
of Russia, the boyars became the servants of 
the Tsar of Moscow. But the boyars did not 
serve the monarch for nothing ; in return for 
their service they received land. Originally 
the servants of the princes were remunerated 
for their services by receiving allotments of land, 
which passed from father to son, as well as by 
money, and the revenues accruing from certain 
Government appointments. Had the boyars 
continued to possess hereditary allotments, and 
nothing but hereditary allotments, they might 
have grown into a caste of territorial aristocrats. 
As it was, as Russia grew bigger, and when 
Northern Russia was annexed to the kingdom 
of Moscow, the only new sources of capital were 
the immense stretches of new land acquired by 
the Tsar of Moscow. Henceforward the Tsar, 
instead of giving the boyars hereditary allot- 
ments of land in return for their service, gave 
them temporary allotments of land in the newly- 


acquired territory. These allotments were in 
theory supposed to belong to the Tsar's servant 
so long, and so long only, as he served, but in 
practice they generally belonged to the owner 
during the whole of his lifetime. A grant of 
land of this kind was called a pomestie (manor), 
and the owner of it a pomeshchilc, which came in 
the course of time to be, and is at present, the 
ordinary Russian word for a landowner. 

Thus the Tsar accomplished at one swoop many 
different objects. He distributed the men of 
service in the interior and at the frontier of the 
country, and by granting them only the tem- 
porary lease of the land in distant parts of the 
country, he prevented the growth of a strong 
landed aristocracy whose existence and rivalry 
he feared. He made these newly-created land- 
owners into a barrier against foreign invasion, and 
into an instrument of national defence ; the land 
became a means for the upkeep of the army, since 
the landowners constituted the army, and the 
armed servant in return for his service received 
land, which, in addition to being a wage, made 
that service possible by giving him a means of 


The principle was established that the servant 
of the State should be rewarded for his services 
by the possession of land ; and soon the corollary 
followed that the owner of land must serve. 

Hereditary holdings still existed ; but gradually 
the right of administrating them came to depend 
on service. In the sixteenth century, in the 
kingdom of Moscow, all owners of hereditary 
holdings were State servants. A man who in- 
herited a holding was obliged to serve if he 
wished to continue to possess the hereditary 
ownership of it. 

Thus it was that the nobility in Russia acquired 
the dual nature of landowner and servant of the 
State. The servant of the State became a land- 
owner, and only on the condition of being a 
servant of the State, as has already been stated. 

The result of all this was that the nobility 
took no roots in the land. Their interest was at 
Court. Their land was merely theix pay. Thus 
no landed or territorial aristocracy came into 
existence, as in other European countries. In 
Russia there are no feudal castles, no families 
taking their names from places, no titles derived 
from property, no wn and zu, no de, no Lord So- 


and-So of So-and-So ; comparatively few stone 
houses. The noble generally lives in a wooden 
house, which has the nature of a temporary 
makeshift residence. 

Nevertheless there was an obstinate attempt 
on the part of the Russian nobility to form a 
political aristocracy. 

The boyars, grouping themselves round the 
throne of Moscow, attempted to do this. They 
organized themselves into a complicated hier- 
archy, according to which precedence depended 
on the pedigree of their forefathers. The 
duties and position of each boyar was written 
down in a complicated kind of peerage called 
" books of pedigree." His rank had to remain 
exactly what that of his forefathers had been. 

Organized in this fashion, the boyars became 
an hereditary, stationary, and exclusive caste, 
perpetually quarrelling over questions of pedigree, 
the rights ajid wrongs of which were extremely 
difficult to determine. 

By the time Ivan the Terrible came to the 
throne (1547) the boyars were individually 
powerful, but the very nature of such an organi- 
zation precluded all idea of solidarity and 


union. Every single noble wished to be primus 
inter pares. Every family was at war with its 
equals. Ivan the Terrible dealt with the boyars 
individually by cutting off their heads. The 
books of pedigree were abolished in the reign of 
Peter the Great's predecessor, and the name 
boyar was abolished by Peter the Great. 

Henceforward the service of your forefathers 
was no longer of any account. Neither lineage 
nor rank counted any longer. Your rank de- 
pended henceforth on your tchin that is to say, 
the post you held in the service of the State ; 
and that, in its turn, depended on your personal 
merit, on the nature of your service. The Rus- 
sian nobility became a class of State servants 
in which the hereditary principle ceased to exist ; 
and although some of the privileges which Peter 
the Great took away from the hereditary nobility 
were restored to them by his successors, the great 
fabric of the State service which he created still 
exists. So does the tchin, with its fourteen grades, 
created by Peter the Great. A boy leaving his 
college or gymnasium, and having passed what 
the Germans call his abiturienten examen, and 
what in some of our public schools is called a 


certificate examination, has access to the lowest 
rung of the official ladder. 

University degrees confer a tcliin on the 
student, and with every fresh diploma he re- 
ceives he ascends a further rung of the ladder. 
For instance, a son of a peasant, if he goes to 
school, passes his examinations, and finishes his 
course at the university, may serve, say, in 
the department of Railway Traffic Organization, 
and by ascending one grade of the ladder after 
another, he may, partly by luck and partly by 
merit, end by being Minister of Finance or Prime 

The successors of Peter the Great exempted the 
nobility from compulsory service; and Catherine II. 
not only confirmed this exemption, but increased 
and enlarged the privileges of the nobility. 
She made the nobility into a privileged class. In 
order to prepare the way for local self-govern- 
ment, she created intermediate powers between 
the throne and the people, and gave the nobility 
a part to play in local administration, and roped 
in the merchants to co-operate with them, thus 
endeavouring to form a bourgeoisie. The nobility 
enjoyed the privilege of appointing local justices 


of the peace and local officials. The adminis- 
tration of every district had to pass through the 
hands of the nobility in the shape of a marshal, 
in some respects a kind of lord-lieutenant * ; one 
presided over every district, and one over every 
province, and both were elected by the Assembly 
of Nobles. The theory was that the influence 
of the marshals of the nobility would counter- 
balance the action of the governor of the prov- 
ince, an official appointed directly by the Crown. 
This was the theory, and a theory it more or less 
remained owing to the apathy of the nobility, 
who failed to take full advantage of their privi- 
leged situation. Nevertheless the nobility did 
play a considerable part in local administration ; 
and consequently, in proportion as they tended 
to become bureaucrats, they ceased being land- 
owners. They had less and less time to look after 
their property. They ceased, for the greater 
part, to be practical and practising landowners, 
and they left the management of their estates 
in the hands of their stewards, and often used 
their estates as a means of raising money, so that 
in 1859, on the eve of the emancipation, two-thirds 

* See page 114. 


of the estates and the nobility were in pawn, 
and the remaining third was often mortgaged 
to individuals. 

The privileges granted to the nobility by the 
successors of Peter the Great could not fail to 
affect the peasantry. The peasants were at this 
time tethered to the soil. Peter the Great had 
tightened the bonds which attached them to 
the soil, and Catherine II. had done nothing to 
loosen their bonds. In fact, the situation of the 
peasants, instead of improving, had grown worse. 
The rights of the master over the serf had been 
extended. The master had the power of deal- 
ing administratively with the serf; he could 
banish him to Siberia, sentence him to penal 
servitude, and could sell him apart from the 
land. The situation of the serf was not only 
crying out for reform, but the peasants knew 
and complained that the whole logical principle 
of the case for serfdom had been violated. 

The peasantry rightly considered that serfdom 
was a temporary measure coinciding with the 
compulsory service of the nobility. If the no- 
bility ceased to serve the Tsar, logically they 
should cease to serve the nobility, because the 


nobility were only given the land on condition 
of serving the Tsar, and on that condition alone, 
and the peasants belonged to the land. 

The discontent of the peasants expressed itself 
in risings, which were sometimes serious, and 
the moral feeling against the existence of serf- 
dom became stronger and stronger. And since 
the nobles were too much occupied with other 
affairs to look after their estates in person, and 
their serfs in a patriarchal fashion, there was, as 
has already been said in Chapter L, no possible 
argument left in favour of serfdom. 

Nevertheless, as Catherine II. saw clearly, the 
emancipation of the serfs could only be carried 
out with the co-operation of the nobility. In 
her reign the time had not come for this, be- 
cause the nobility were opposed to the reform. 
The reform came about in 1861, and by it the 
nobility lost the unique privilege of being the 
only class in Russia able to own land, and the 
access to landed proprietorship in Russia was 
thrown open to all classes. 

When the immense act of expropriation which 
the emancipation of the serfs entailed took place, 
about half the landowners in Russia disappeared. 


Quite a new and mixed class of landowners came 
into existence : merchants and absentee land- 
owners who leased their land to the peasants, and 
finally those who sunk their capital in the land and 
tried to carry on agriculture on rational principles. 
I have already spoken of the result of absentee 
landownership in Russia, and the further sales 
of land which were made to the peasants in 
1905., and of the exemption of the peasantry 
from compulsory communal land tenure. Look- 
ing back on the situation now, one is aware 
that the landed nobility in Russia is being slowly 
and gradually oozed out of existence ; it is being 
subjected to a slow process of expropriation in 
favour of the peasants, the merchants, and the 
new capitalists ; and in the course of time, as 
soon as the peasantry has the means, the capital, 
and the knowledge to compete with it on equal 
terms, the nobility as a caste of landowners will 
disappear altogether. 

The two questions which I put towards the 
beginning of this chapter : How is it there exists 
no political aristocracy in Russia ? and, How is 
it that there exists no territorial aristocracy, in 
spite of the fact that until 1861 the nobility had 


the exclusive right of owning the land ? can per- 
haps be answered thus : 

There is no political aristocracy in Russia, 
because as far back as we can see in Russian 
history we find no traces of that spirit of caste 
and solidarity which creates a compact body, 
sharing a common outlook, and pursuing a defi- 
nite political and social aim* As far back as we 
can see in Russian history the nobles were State 
servants, and when they were given privileges 
which were not dependent on service, they were 
powerless to make themselves into anything 
else. They had neither the instinct nor the 
desire to do so. 

There have in Russian history been aristo-^ 
crats, but no aristocracy ; and when those aristo- 
crats were powerful, they were bound together by 
no esprit de corps, and by no common object : thus 
it was easy for the Crown to disintegrate them. 

There has been no territorial aristocracy, be- 
cause the land was a temporary loan made to 
the nobility in return for service. When the 
service ceased to be compulsory, the land was 
at once reclaimed by its original owners, the 
men who tilled it. A hundred years after service 


ceased to be compulsory for the nobles the 
peasants were given back a great part of the 
land, and ever since then they have been gradu- 
ally getting back more and more of it, and in 
the course of time there is no doubt that they 
will end by getting back all of it. 

The Russian nobility is a thing apart. An 
aristocracy on the Western European pattern no 
more exists in Russia than do feudal castles on 
the European pattern. There is an analogy 
between the flat uniform surface of the land- 
scape in Russia, the absence of sharp mountain 
ranges and deep valleys, of variety and varie- 
gated features, and the nature of Russian insti- 
tutions. The Russian nobility is, like the Rus- 
sian landscape, devoid of sharp features all one 
level. It is democratic, and averse to the pro- 
minence of individual personalities. All the 
features that are characteristic of aristocratic 
tendencies, such as primogeniture, spirit of caste, 
class exclusiveness, do not exist. The Russian 
nobility is democratic, and it lacks the salient 
features and the sharp and defined character 
which has distinguished in the past the nobility 
in the other countries of Europe. 


It may very likely now occur to the reader to 
ask if there is not and never has been such a 
thing as a political aristocracy in Russia ; and if 
the Russian nobility is so democratic, why was 
there ever any discontent in Russia ? Why was 
there such a thing as Nihilism and a revolutionary 
movement ? 

It would seem at first sight that a system in 
which rank was entirely dependent on merit, and 
in which the service was open to everybody, left 
nothing to be desired, as far as democracy is con- 
cerned. In certain respects it is obviously demo- 
cratic, in others it is fatal to all free democracy. 

The principle, of course, is as democratic as 
possible ; but what happens in practice ? In 
practice you have a gigantic machine worked by 
a governing class of officials which is absolutely 
uncontrolled by public opinion. 

Any one can get into the governing class, that 
is true ; but nobody who is not in it can check 
its action, and at one period nobody could even 
criticize it. The result is the triumph of bureau- 
cracy at the expense of any kind of democracy 
or of any kind of aristocracy ; while the only 
tiling that profits by it is arbitrary despotism. 


And though the system is theoretically favour- 
able to the advancement of merit, it is a thousand 
times more favourable to mediocrity, routine, 
office-hunting, officialdom, red-tape, to the 
stifling of all individual initiative, and the 
shirking of all moral responsibility. The chief 
evil result of the system was the uncontrolled 
arbitrary character of the central government 
and the local administration as carried on by 
the provincial governors and other officials of 
the Government; and it was against this arbi- 
trariness that public opinion in Russia revolted, 
and expressed itself either by militant acts of 
revolt, assassinations, or explosions, or peace- 
ably in a demand for political reform. And in 
this peaceable demand the nobility played an 
important part. 

I have already said that Catherine II. gave 
privileges to the nobility with the idea of pre- 
paring the way for local self-government. She 
knew that in her time such institutions could only 
be elementary, and that real local self-govern- 
ment was impossible, since besides the nobility 
and the merchants, the rest of the population 
were serfs ; but she determined to lay the foun- 


dations of self-government, and to prepare the 
way for the future. She gave the nobility privi- 
leges which in other countries must certainly have 
led to a conflict with the Crown ; but in her 
time nothing of the kind happened, since the 
nobility took no advantage of their situation. 
But the situation which she created did ulti- 
mately lead to a conflict with the Crown, because 
it was the organs of the local self-government 
which voiced the demand for representative in- 
stitutions in Russia, and headed the movement 
which obtained them. The first step towards 
local self-government was made by Catherine II., 
the second step was made by Alexander II. In 
1864, in addition to the Assemblies of Nobles, 
Zemstvos (county councils) were created, con- 
taining representatives of every class ; later, the 
nobility and the peasants elected their repre- 
sentatives. Every district of every government 
or province was given a Zemstvo, or county 
council; and above this (and formed from the 
district councils) each government or province 
was given a county council. Both the district 
and the provincial county councils were presided 
over by the marshals of the nobility. 


Here were the means and the instrument at 
least of checking the uncontrolled action of the 
bureaucratic machine ; but the natural corollary 
of local self-government namely, central political 
representation was for the time lacking. More- 
over, from time to time the officials appointed 
by the Government were given powers to check 
the action of the county councils. 

Ten years passed. The enthusiasm which 
greeted the era of reform in the 'sixties died 
out in a smoke of disillusion, and a revolutionary 
movement sprang up, and a Nihilist fever, cul- 
minating in the assassination of the Emperor 
Alexander II. in 1881, when he was on the eve 
of granting a constitution to Russia. This 
shelved all question of reform for another twenty- 
five years ; a period of sheer reaction followed ; 
and it was not until the Russo-Japanese War in 
1904 that the public discontent found expression 
in a manner which had to be reckoned with. 

It was now that the Zemstvos played a 
supremely important part. They headed the 
constitutional demand for reform, which had 
developed side by side with a revolutionary move- 
ment. And they obtained first the promise of 


a consultative House of Representatives, and 
finally, on October 17, 1905, a charter promising 
to the people the foundations of civic liberty, 
the convocation of a Duma, and the promise 
that no laws should in future be passed without 
receiving the sanction of the representatives of 
the nation. The rank and file of the army which 
brought this to pass were the whole of the edu- 
cated middle class of Russia, but its leaders 
and spokesmen were the members of the nobility 
in the county councils. It was not the nobility 
as a class which acted and brought this about, 
but the instruments of local government, the 
county councils; and every single organ of 
local government, each county council, had at the 
head of it a member of the nobility. So far, 
then, from acting as a separate caste, the Russian 
nobility, in the movement and demand for 
reform and emancipation, simply expressed the 
opinion of the man in the street ; and this was 
all the easier, for the simplest definition of the 
Russian noble, and one which sums up the whole 
matter, is that in Russia the noble is almost/ 
every tenth man in the street. 



UP till October 30, 1905 (O.S., October 7), 
Russia was an unlimited autocracy. The 
Emperor bore the title of Unlimited Autocrat of 
all the Russias. But Russia possessed, never- 
theless, certain administrative and legislative 
institutions. There was a consultative assembly 
called the Council of Empire, founded by Alex- 
ander I. ? whose business it was to make laws ; 
and a Senate, founded by Peter the Great, an 
administrative institution, whose business it was 
to see that the laws and the Emperor's ukases 
were carried out. The Emperor could always 
issue special ukases, and he could suggest any 
laws to the Ministers whom he appointed. 

The initiative of legislation was in the hands 
of the Emperor's Ministers. They presented laws 
to the Council of Empire, which discussed and 


amended them, and presented them, together 
with the findings of the majority and the minority, 
and sometimes the finding of an individual mem- 
ber, which were the outcome of their delibera- 
tions, to the Emperor for his sanction. In this 
manner the fundamental laws of the empire 
were drawn up. 

On October 30, 1905, this state of things was 
profoundly modified by the publication of an 
imperial manifesto which laid down certain new 
principles of government. 

If these principles were carried out in practice, 
Russia would no longer be an unlimited auto- 
cracy. What it would exactly be is a little diffi- 
cult to define. In the old days the Government 
of Russia was defined as . being an autocracy 
tempered by assassination. It would be diffi- 
cult to define it exactly as it is at the present 
moment. It is a limited autocracy ; an auto- 
cracy limited indirectly by the existence of legis- 
lative institutions. 

At the same time, it was technically a mistake 
to call the manifesto a constitution, because the 
Sovereign did not categorically divest himself of 
bis autocratic rights ; he took no oath to any 


constitution ; all he did was to grant his subjects 
certain privileges, which, if carried out, would 
limit the purely autocratic character of his power. 
He himself remained an autocrat. He could, if 
he saw fit to do so in the future, take back the 
privileges he had granted. The manifesto was a 
charter rather than a constitution. It promised 
to the people the foundations of civic liberty 
based on the liberty of the person, liberty of con- 
science, liberty of speech, and the right of form- 
ing unions, societies, and associations. It an- 
nounced that a National Assembly (the Duma) 
would be convoked, elected by the people, who 
would henceforward be called upon to co- 
operate in the government of the country. It 
laid down the principle that in future no law 
should come into force without previously re- 
ceiving the sanction of the Parliament. 

A National Assembly elected by the people was 
not a new phenomenon for Russia. Ever since 
1550 National Assemblies appear from time to time 
in the course of Russian history. They failed to 
become a permanent feature and factor in Russian 
life owing to the strife of classes. The population 
split up into classes, and this was due to the 


birth of economic problems and the manner in 
which they were solved ; the peasants became 
slaves in the hands of the landowners, and the 
National Assembly ceased to be national, and 
became representative of an upper class which 
was divided against itself, owing to the con- 
flicting personal interests it fostered. 

The Emperor Nicholas II. in convoking a 
National Council was not creating a new prece- 
dent, but resuscitating an old one. The word 
Duma means Council, and the Tsars of Moscow 
in olden times had governed with the aid of an 
assembly of nobles called the Council of Boyars. 

When the manifesto was issued in 1905, it 
was clear that the fundamental laws of the 
empire made no provision for a Duma, and 
that if a Duma were to assemble on the 
basis of the manifesto, its situation in the 
State and its relation to the Sovereign would 
be undefined. For this reason a revised ver- 
sion of the fundamental laws of the empire 
was confirmed and published on April 23, 

This revised edition of the fundamental laws 
defined the position of the Sovereign with 


regard to the Duma. According to its provi- 
sions, the supreme autocratic power was vested 
in the person of the Emperor; but according 
to another section it was laid down that the 
Sovereign exercises legislative power in conjunc- 
tion with the Council of Empire and the 

The principle of the manifesto that no law 
should come into force without previously re- 
ceiving the sanction of the legislative institution 
was confirmed. 

The Emperor retained the title of Autocrat, 
and concentrated in his person the legislative, 
executive, and judicial powers ; but the substan- 
tive " Autocrat " was no longer preceded by the 
adjective " Unlimited." 

The executive powers of the Sovereign entitled 
him to convene, adjourn, and prorogue the 
Council of Empire and the Duma; to dissolve 
the Duma ; and to dismiss the elected members 
of the Council of Empire before the term of their 
mandates, but not without fixing tike date of 
fresh selections and of the session of a new 

The Emperor retained the right of appointing 


the president, the vice-president, and half the 
members of the Council of Empire; the right 
of veto, and the sanction of laws ; the sole initi- 
ative of any changes in the fundamental laws; 
and, as has already been said, he shared the 
initiative in all branches of legislation with both 
the Houses. 

The Emperor also retained the right of issuing 
special ukases, sanctioning unforeseen expendi- 
ture not provided for in the Estimates, for emer- 
gencies in case of war, and loans for expenditure 
in war. 

The fundamental laws also contained an emer- 
gency clause of another kind, according to 
which the Emperor, by special ukase, can pro- 
mulgate laws in cases of emergency when the 
Houses are not in session, subject to their being 
subsequently submitted to them for approval. 
But no change may be made in the fundamental 
laws in virtue of this clause, nor may it modify 
the legislative institutions and the electoral laws 
for the two Houses. Moreover, any regulation 
made in this way ceases to be in force if, in two 
months after the beginning of the session of the 
Duma, no Bill is introduced by the Duma 


confirming it, or if a Bill is introduced and 

The executive powers of the Emperor consist 
in the appointment and dismissal of the Prime 
Minister and the Ministers, the direction of for- 
eign affairs, the proclamation of martial law 
and any modified kind of martial law, and the 
command of the military and naval forces. 

The Emperor has also certain judicial powers, 
such as the confirmation of the verdicts of crim- 
inal courts. 

At this moment, then, the legislative institu- 
tions of Russia consist of the Council of Empire 
and the Duma. The Council of Empire is the 
Upper House ; half of its members are elected, 
and they receive their mandates in certain 
proportions from the synod, the nobility, the 
universities, the corporation of merchants, and 
from Poland. They are elected for a term of 
nine years. The remaining members (including 
the president and the vice-president) are ap- 
pointed by the Emperor. 

* Contrary to this last provision, the clause was taken advantage 
of by the Government in 1907 to make a new electoral law which 
changed the nature of the franchise. This was illegal, and according 
to the fundamental laws, a coup d'etat. 


The Upper House shares with the Lower House 
the right of initiative in legislation, as well as 
that of voting supplies and of making inter- 

The Lower House, as has just been said, has 
also the right of initiative legislation ; but certain 
subjects, according to the fundamental laws, are 
outside its competence namely, the institutions 
of the imperial court ; the imperial family ; 
war and naval departments ; the jurisdiction 
of military and naval courts. 

On the other hand, the imperial budget and the 
budgets of individual Ministries, and the authori- 
zation of loans, are within its competency. It 
has also the right of making interpellations. 
There is not, as in the English House of Commons, 
a certain time put aside every day for questions. 
Notice is given of interpellation, and the question 
of whether it shall be regarded as pressing or not 
is put to the vote. If expedition is voted for, the 
interpellation must be answered by the Ministers 
within a month ; if extreme expedition is voted 
for, within three days; if expedition is not 
voted for, the answer is given within an indefinite 


The right of interpellation, and the larger fact 
that an assembly exists where discussion of public 
affairs is public, are, as is the case with most 
Parliaments, the chief assets in the influence of 
the Duma. As far as actual legislation is con- 
cerned, the Upper House can throw out any of 
the Bills which the Lower House passes. 

The electoral law is exceedingly complicated. 
The degree of suffrage it confers is very far from 
being universal. In the first place, elections are 
indirect ; in every government voters elect a cer- 
tain number of electors, who in their turn elect 
members to represent the government in the 
Duma. Only males who have reached the age 
of twenty-five have the right to vote; and all 
those who are in any branch of military service 
are excluded. 

The voters are (a) those who vote by property 
qualification that is tb say, persons residing 
in the various districts who can satisfy a property 
qualification, the amount and classification of 
which depends upon their occupation. For in- 
stance, landowners are classified according to the 
amount of land they possess, and merchants or all 
persons engaged in commercial pursuits, accord- 

4 a 


ing to their trade licence. This class of voter must 
either own immovable property, hold a trade 
licence., be in the receipt of a pension and salary 
arising from his employment in the Govern- 
ment, municipal, or railway service, or be the 
occupant of a lodging hired in his name. 

For such voters one year's residence in the 
polling district is required. 

As the qualification is high, the number of 
voters is necessarily limited. 

(6) A second class of voter consists of peas- 
ants whose names are on the rolls of the rural 
communities that is to say, heads of house- 
holds. One year's residence. in the polling dis- 
trict is necessary for them also. 

(c) A third class, consisting of town voters, 
artisans, and employees in factories, works, and 
railway shops. Six months' residence in polling 
district is required. 

An election is carried on thus : 

All the voters are divided into five groups : 
Landowners ; peasants ; town voters (two groups 
according to their property qualification) ; arti- 
sans, etc. 

Each of these groups elects separately, by a sys- 


tern of two degrees, a certain number of electors 
who shall represent them at a general meeting of 
the government or province. This large Provin- 
cial Assembly, consisting of landowners, peasants, 
and town dwellers, meets together, and elects a cer- 
tain number of members to represent the govern- 
ment or province in the Duma. In this assembly 
the landed class interest and the richer merchants 
and town dwellers have the advantage in numbers, 
and are consequently in the majority. In order 
therefore to safeguard to a certain extent the 
interests of the other classes, the Government 
Assembly must first of all elect one member to 
represent each of the following classes : 

(a) The peasants ; 

(b) Landowners ; 

(c) The town electors (only in certain govern- 

ments) ; 

(d) The artisans (only in six governments). 
And as each government is entitled to return 

a certain number of members fixed by the law,* 
the requisite number is completed by electing 
members from the remaining total of electors. 
There are two exceptions to the general pro- 

* The number varies from three to twelve. 


cedure : the largest cities, and Siberia, Poland, 
and the Caucasus (where the procedure is some- 
what different). The larger cities St. Petersburg, 
Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, and Riga vote according 
to property qualification, and elect members 
directly to the Duma. 

The result of this complicated system of suffrage 
is that the landed interest and the wealthier 
classes are predominant in the Duma, and conse- 
quently the Conservative element is the strongest. 
The Radical, Social Democratic, and Labour 
element which exists in the Duma is furnished 
by the big towns, with their direct elective 
system, and the election of members representing 
the peasant class, which is always guaranteed 
and the artisan class, which is to some extent 
guaranteed by the elective assemblies of every 

All that I have written so fax concerns the in- 
struments of legislation. The administration of 
the country, the actual business of government, 
is carried out by the Senate, the Council of Min- 
isters, the governors of the provinces, the 
Zemstvos (county councils), and, as far as re- 
ligious affairs are concerned, by the Holy Synod. 


The highest administrative institution of the State 
is the Senate. The Ruling Senate was founded 
by Peter the Great in 1711, with the object of 
representing him and acting on his behalf during 
his frequent absences. Its functions, which are 
essentially the same to-day as they were then, 
only on a larger scale, consist in supervising all 
branches of administration and in seeing that the 
laws are carried out throughout the country. 
The Ruling Senate, at the same time, is the high 
court of justice for the empire, the highest 
court of appeal in administrative matters, and 
exercises supreme control ; it promulgates all 
laws, and supervises the courts of law. 

The Senate has several sub-departments, which 
have various functions, the most important of 
which is that of checking the executive power, 
and seeing that it is exercised in accordance with 
the law. The department to which this function 
belongs is also charged with the promulgation 
of a law, and may refuse to promulgate it if 
the law is contrary to the fundamental laws. A 
procurator, representing the Crown, is attached 
to every department of the Senate, who is sub- 
ordinate to the Minister of Justice. The latter, 


in this connection, is called the Procurator- 

The Senate also examines complaints brought 
against Ministers, governors, or provincial and 
district officials. The senators are appointed by 
the Emperor. 

The Council of Ministers consists of the Min- 
isters and heads of administration. 

There are twelve Ministries : Foreign Affairs, 
War, Admiralty, Finance, Education, Ways and 
Communications, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce 
and Industry, the Imperial Court, the Interior, 
and the Department of Government Control. 

Each individual Minister is bound to bring 
before the Council all Bills that are destined to 
come before the Duma and the Council of Em- 
pire; all proposals concerning changes in the 
staff in the chief offices of higher and local ad- 
ministration ; and all reports which have been 
drawn up for presentation to the Sovereign.* 

Russia is divided for purposes of administration 
into provinces called governments. Peter the 

* Besides the Council of Ministers, there are various other de- 
liberative institutions, such as a Military Council, an Admiralty 
Council, an Imperial Defence Council, a Financial Committee, and 
a Court of Chancery. 


Great was the first Russian ruler to make such a 
division. He divided the country into eight gov- 
ernments. Catherine II. increased the number 
to 40. At the present day there are 78 govern- 
ments 49 in European Russia, 10 in Poland, 
8 in Finland, 7 in the Caucasus, 4 in Siheria. 

There are besides these governments, twenty- 
three provinces which are called territories 
(oblasti), which are either incompletely organ- 
ized or retain special institutions. They are 
for the greater part situated at the extremes 
of the empire. The average size of a govern- 
ment is greater than Belgium, Holland, or 
Switzerland. The divisions were made arti- 
ficially and arbitrarily, and the governments 
in this respect resemble the French depart- 

The governments are divided into districts, 
which correspond to the French arrondissements. 
Each province has from eight to fifteen dis- 
tricts, and is parcelled out for administrative 
and judicial purposes, according to its size, 
between a certain number of officials called 
zemskie nachalniJci, called by some English 
writers land captains. These zemskie nachal- 


nihi were created in 1889 * to replace the local 
justices of peace, who were abolished in that 
year. They were a kind of official squire. The 
office could in principle only be held by a member 
of the hereditary nobility. They exercise execu- 
tive and judicial authority over the villages in 
their area of jurisdiction. I will discuss their 
judicial authority later in the chapter on justice. 
They have the character of police officers in 
that they make bye-laws, and that of magistrates 
in that they decide on their infringement. They 
are nominated by the governor, and appointed 
by the Minister of the Interior. They have 
the control of the peasants' communal institu- 
tions. All resolutions of the village assemblies 
and landings of the canton courts are submitted 
to them. All the officials of the peasants' 
administration are subordinate to them. They 
have now become, more or less, officials of the 
Ministry, and are no longer men of weight or 
position among the nobility. The total number 
of these zemsJcie nachalniki in every district 

* By a recent law which came into force in January 1914 the 
zemskie nackalniki are being abolished in certain portions of Russia 
and replaced by elective Justices of Peace. 


form a Board which sits in the district town 
once or more every month, as necessity arises. 
This board is presided over by the marshal of 
the nobility of the district, and with the co-opera- 
tion of a police ofiicial called the Ispravnik, who 
has charge of the police duties of every district, 
and of other officials, constitutes an administrative 
unit which corresponds to a French sous-prefet. 

At the head of every province is a governor, 
who is proposed by the Minister of the Interior, 
and appointed by the emperor. He is respon- 
sible for the administration of the government. 
His office is not unlike that of the intendant 
of the old regime in France, and the prefet of 
modern France. Formerly the governor con- 
centrated all the administrative powers in him- 
self, and every province was a miniature au- 
tocracy. The governor is assisted by a board 
of Administration, over which he presides, and 
which consists of a vice-governor, councillors, 
the government medical officer, the government 
engineer, the architect, the land surveyor, 
and their deputies. 

The governor can issue special regulations for 
safeguarding public order ; he exercises control 


over all the administrative offices and institu- 
tions, all officials and public servants, and the 
institutions of local government. All regula- 
tions passed by the county or district councils, or 
the town corporations, must be confirmed by him; 
and likewise the election of all officials elected 
and appointed by the local self-governing bodies. 

The principal check on the apparently unlimited 
powers of the central administration, personi- 
fied in the various governors, lies in the rights 
exercised by the Assembly of Nobles. 

The nobility in every district meet once every 
three years and elect a president for their district, 
who is called the marshal of the nobility of the 

After this is done, all the nobility of all the 
districts in the province unite to elect a president 
for the province. He is called the marshal of 
the nobility of the province. The election of 
the marshal of the district must be confirmed 
by the governor; that of the marshal of the 
province is confirmed by the Emperor in person, 
and by the Emperor alone. 

In order to belong to the Assembly of Nobles, 
it is necessary, besides being a noble by birth, 


to own land in the district or the province; to 
possess either a military or civil tchin; or in 
default of this sign of rank, certificates testify- 
ing that you have passed certain examinations. 

The right to assemble and elect marshals for 
the districts and the province (and a board of 
trustees for the orphans of nobles) is all that 
remains now of the larger privileges conferred 
on the nobility by Catherine II. Those privileges 
consisted in the right of appointing the local 
judges and the chief local officials that is to say, 
the county police. This prerogative lasted until 
the epoch of the great reforms in the 'sixties. 

But in spite of the loss of their former privileges, 
the nobility, as represented in the marshals of 
the districts, still discharges manifold duties of 
an intricate character, and by so doing forms the 
corner-stone of local administration, and con- 
sequently constitutes a certain check on the 
otherwise uncontrolled action of the governor 
of the province. 

As far as administration is concerned, the 
marshal of the province is less important than 
the marshal of the district. He is an ex officio 
member of the governor's board of administra- 


tion, and as such, both by tradition and by right, 
he exercises considerable influence, since an 
independent influential personality is certain to 
be elected to the post. 

On the other hand, the duties and powers of 
the marshal of the district are more numerous, and 
stand in closer touch with the machinery of 
provincial administration. He is the president 
of all the executive committees in the district : 
all committees that deal with the settlement of 
questions relating to the peasants' land, military 
conscription, and the supervision of local schools. 
He is the president of the district tribunal (the 
court of petty sessions), and as such the chief 
justice of peace, of the district. He is, more- 
over, the ex officio president of the Zemstvo 

The marshal of the district has duties and 
capacities of a dual nature. On the one hand 
he performs representative duties resembling 
those of a lord-lieutenant of an English county ; 
and on the other hand, in conjunction with 
the board of zemsJcie nachalni'k.i I mentioned 
just now, he fills the place of a French sous- 
prefet. But the important fact about his 


position is that he is outside and not inside the 
central official administration. His position is in- 
violable because once he is elected he is irremov- 
able, save by imperial ukase, except in the case 
of his falling under sentence for breaking the law. 

The strength of his position lies less in his 
executive power than in the fact that he is an 
independent unit, acting in the machinery of 
administration, but outside bureaucratic control, 
and consequently a check on the local central 
administration. He receives no salary, and is 
necessarily a man of social position. 

Lately, owing to the reactionary tendency 
towards centralization which followed the revolu- 
tionary movement in Russia, and which has not 
yet abated, the influence of the district marshal 
has been, to a certain extent, impaired, owing to 
the greater influence exercised by the police, who 
make capital, and lead the central administration 
to make capital, out of the fear of revolution. 

Besides the Assembly of Nobles there is a 
further check on the action of the provincial 
governor in the office of the procurator. This 
office is attached to the divisional courts of 
justice. And the procurator, besides acting 


as public prosecutor and exercising general 
control over law courts, has to see that the law 
is executed* If a governor acts illegally, the 
procurator has the right to appeal to the Senate, 
which we have already seen fulfils the special 
duty of examining such complaints. 

Side by side with the Assemblies of the Nobles 
there exist assemblies of representatives of 
different classes. 

For the purpose of local self-government 
European Russia is divided into village com- 
munes, and into groups of communes which 
form an administrative unit, called the Canton 
(Volost). The Canton varies in size, and can 
include as many as thirty villages. Both the 
Commune and the Canton are self-governing. 
The village is governed by the Commune that 
is to say, the village assembly which manages 
the property of the village and divides it among 
its members, exercises disciplinary rights, and 
has the control of leases of land made to out- 
siders. But both as regards the affairs of the 
Commune and the Canton, the peasants are, as 
a class, isolated. The Commune and the Canton 
can only levy taxes on their own members. 


The Canton has an assembly also. Each 
Commune sends one man from every ten house- 
holds to the Assembly of the Canton, which elects 
a president called the Elder, and five judges 
chosen from the peasants to serve on the court of 
the Canton. 

The provincial administration is, to some 
extent, entrusted to elective District and Pro- 
vincial Assemblies called Zemstvos. 

The Zemstvo was created in 1864 The word 
Zemstvo means territorial assembly ; the institu- 
tion corresponds to our county council. There are 
two kinds of Zemstvo, the smaller being elected 
to deal with the affairs of a single district ; the 
larger is selected by the Zemstvos of all the 
districts, and forms a county council for the 
whole province to deal with the affairs common 
to all the districts in that province. 

Both the assemblies must be summoned at least 
once a year. (They sit for about a fortnight.) 

The District Zemstvo Assembly is elected 
indirectly, and consists on an average of about 
forty members. The elections of the District 
Zemstvo are organized according to class division, 
or rather civic status. Each class elects so 


many representatives the peasants so many, 
the nobility so many, the town dwellers so 
many. The number of the representatives of 
each class is fixed by law in such way as to give 
the representatives of the nobility the prepon- 
derance. Thus about half (or more than half) 
the members consists of members of the nobility ; 
the remainder are peasants, and include three or 
four merchants from the towns. All members 
are elected for a term of three years.* 

The Provincial Zemstvo consists chiefly of 
members of the nobility, elected from the District 

* The peasants of each. Canton elect a candidate, and the. elected . 
candidates in their turn elect from amongst themselves the number 
of members required. The nobility, the merchants, and any pjpas- 
ants who are outside the Commune that is to say, private Hud- 
owners are elected by property qualification ; they have to possess 
so* many acres, or so much immovable property, or a commercial 
or industrial establishment of a certain assessed value. People who 
own not IOBS than one-tenth of the necessary property qualification, 
also persons who are less than twenty-five years of age, and women, 
may take part in the election by proxy. 

t The Government or Provincial Zemstvo Assembly is composed 
of a certain number of members, fixed by the law, elected by the 
District Assemblies : 

Of all the marshals of the nobility ; 

Of all the presidents of the districts ; 

Of the chairman and members of the government council ; 

Of representatives of the clergy ; 

Of the heads of the local branches of the Department of Agri 


Both the assemblies elect from amongst them- 
selves a standing committee (zemskaya uprava] 
of four or five paid officials, which is appointed 
for three or four years. These standing com- 
mittees do practically all the current work of 
the district. 

The governor of the province has the right to 
confirm or to refuse to confirm the election of the 
presidents and members of the Zemstvo Assem- 
blies ; to institute legal proceedings against 
them; to exercise a veto on all resolutions of 
both bodies. The assemblies have the right of 
appeal to the Senate. 

The nature of self-government in the towns, 
and the control exercised over it is practically 
the same as that of the Zemstvo institutions. 
(The property qualification for the elector is high.) 

The importance of the Zemstvo institutions 
lies in the fact that they minister to the practical 
needs of the community. Within their scope are 
the ways and communications, the roads, and 
the Zemstvo post, all medical and charitable 
institutions, mutual insurance, prevention of 
cattle disease, fire brigades, primary education, 
and the development of agriculture and trade. 


The practical weakness of the Zemstvo as an 
institution is that it possesses no lower elective 
unit corresponding to a vestry or a parish ; no 
boards below those of the district, which 
execute its decisions. 

The resources of the Zemstvo consist in taxes, 
which are levied by the District and Provincial 
Zemstvo on land, whether owned by the peasants, 
the nobility, or the Crown. 

The main characteristic of the Provincial 
Zemstvo (since it was remodelled in 1890, before 
which date it was more democratic) is that it is 
extremely reactionary. But the Zemstvo consists, 
as I have already said, chiefly of the nobility 
that is to say, of members of the more cultivated 
classes and the result of this is, that in spite of 
its members being reactionary in views and 
sentiment, the work done by assemblies of these 
reactionary members is, except in times of 
violent reaction, such as the period immediately 
following after the revolutionary movement, of 
a progressive nature. 

In looking back on the work that the Zemstvo 
has accomplished during the last fifty years, one 
sees clearly that the action of the Zemstvo has 


been purely progressive, and the work done has 
outstripped in liberalism the views and the 
opinions of the nobility taken as a class, which 
constitute its most important ingredient. This 
explains the mistrust which the central adminis- 
tration entertains towards the Zemstvo even 
towards its reactionary members. The repre- 
sentatives of the central administration, by 
exercising their right of confirming or cancel- 
ling elections and resolutions, are for ever trying 
to hinder and hamper the work of the Zemstvo, 
and to acquire greater control over it. 

In a matter such as the Zemstvo it must by no 
means be assumed that the various Ministries in St. 
Petersburg are necessarily at one. On the contrary, 
they may be, and they often are, at sixes and 
sevens. For instance, the Ministry of Agriculture 
is really (and ever since it has existed edways has 
been) progressive ; and since it wishes to get things 
done, works with the Zemstvo ; and so does the 
Ministry of Finance, as far as it is concerned with 
the Zemstvo. This guarantees a certain counter 
influence to that of the Ministry of the Interior, 
which carries on the traditional policy of its de- 
partment, of regarding the Zemstvo as an enemy. 


If we look now at the work which, is being 
accomplished by the Zemstvo in the various 
branches which come under its scope, we see a 
considerable improvement in medical institu- 
tions and in all that regards public health; a 
vast improvement in primary education, the 
progress being lately so great that there has 
been a demand for supplementary funds for 
education ; and quite lately agriculture has 
taken a sharp bound forward, and in so doing 
has received considerable assistance from the 

Taking the Zemstvo and its work as a whole, 
as a factor in Russian life and administration, 
it is clear that it is the one real and vital political 
force in Russia, in spite of the reactionary 
tendencies of the majority of its members, and 
in spite of an important organic weakness in 
its constitution, which I have already mentioned 
namely, the absence of a link between the 
Zemstvo and the people it represents. 

It is near to practical life, and it is nearer to 
the population than any other institution or 
body, and since it possesses, in its limited way, 
wider facilities for the public discussion of vital 


interests than any other institutions, it has 
during the last fifty years proved the real organ 
of public opinion, and the real lever in the matter 
of progress, for it was the Zemstvo which voiced 
the universal desire for reform in 1905, and 
contributed in no small way to the changes 
which were then made. 

All that is here set down, when you read it 
through, sounds, as far as the Zemstvo is con- 
cerned, as if all were for the best in the best of 
all possible worlds; but in practice the work 
of the Zemstvo is hampered by the power of the 
officials appointed by the Central Government, 
and the power of these officials is not only 
used arbitrarily, but sometimes in a manner 
definitely contrary to the law. For the governor 
of the province, if he cannot absolutely put a 
stop to the work of the Zemstvo, can hamper 
it in every possible way, and put effectual 
spokes in its wheels. It is not only that the 
possibility of his so doing exists, but the fact 
is being actually and not seldom experienced at 
the present time, owing to the low administrative 
standard of the governors who are appointed. 
It is worth mentioning also that in the im- 


portant outlying districts of Russia in Poland, 
the Baltic provinces and the Caucasus there is 
no Zemstvo, and all the duties of the Zemstvo 
are carried out by a committee of officials,, and the 
majority of these do their work extremely badly. 
Also, in these regions the nobility have no rights. 

If you review the Government machine which 
administrates Russia as a whole, the same 
criticism applies. On paper the fundamental 
laws of the empire, the rights of the two Houses 
and of the Senate, and of the instruments of 
local self-government, together with the numer- 
ous checks and safeguards against official law- 
lessness, seem to provide a very fine working 
constitution- In practice the rights are often 
over-ruled, and the checks disregarded. 

The Duma, by its very existence, of course, 
is an element of progress, however indirect ; but 
here again the Government^ owing to the nature 
of the electoral law, can exert pressure on the 
elections, and have so far succeeded in always 
obtaining a reactionary majority, so that the 
actual composition of the Duma is not what 
it would be if the Government exerted no pres- 
sure at all. 


Again, since any form or shade of constitutional 
government is a new feature in Russia, in many 
cases that arise there is no established precedent 
which can be referred to, and the course to be 
taken is doubtful, but in such cases the benefit 
of this doubt accrues to the Government. 

In spite of this there is not the slightest doubt 
that in Russia at present the existence and the 
action of the Duma are felt, indirectly, very 
widely indeed. And as a rule people who are 
in the thick of Russian affairs, the Russians 
themselves, will not realize this so well as an 

The existence of the Duma has proved a 
factor in national progress. And the outsider, 
who has had any experience of Russian life in 
the past, will at once see that the progress in 
the general state of affairs from what existed 
ten years ago to what exists now has been 
immense. There is a great gulf between the 
period before 1905 and the era which began in 
1905. The trouble is that the government 
and the administration have not kept step and 
time with the national progress. And when 
people say in exculpation of the faults of any 


given government, that every country has the 
government which it deserves, it may safely be 
said that the actual government of Russia is 
less good than what Russia deserves, since it is 
impossible to deny that, in some respects, 
Russia is comparatively, relatively, and taking 
the general state of affairs and of national pro- 
gress into consideration, less well governed at 
present as is the case probably with England 
and most other European countries than it was 
not only in the immediate past, but even in the 
days of Alexander II. Hence there exists an 
increasing political discontent, into the specific 
causes of which we will inquire in the next 



T HAVE already said in the preceding chapter 
A that the principles of central and parliament- 
ary government in Russia, and the theory of local 
administration and local self-government, if in- 
vestigated on paper, produce an excellent im- 
pression, so that the casual inquirer, glancing at 
the subject for the first time, will be tempted to 
exclaim, " What more can the Russian people 
want ? " 

Moreover, there has perhaps never been a 
period when Russia was more materially pros- 
perous than at the present moment, or when the 
great majority of the people seemed to have 
so little obvious cause for discontent ; and yet 
it would be futile to deny it unmistakable signs 
of discontent exist. 

Seeds of discontent have been sown, and are 



every day being sown broadcast, and unless their 
early shoots are uprooted in time, it is difficult 
to imagine that they will not bear momentous 
fruit in the future, however distant such a future 
may be. 

Whereupon the casual inquirer would probably 
ask a further question : "If the Russian people 
are discontented, why are they discontented ? 
What are these seeds of discontent ? Whence 
do they come ? And are their grievances sub- 
stantial or frivolous, real or imaginary ? " 

The answer is, I think, simple. 

The seeds of discontent, where they exist, are 
the result of one simple fact. In 1905 explicit 
promises were made to the Russian people, 
which, if carried out, would insure their complete 
political liberty and the full rights of citizenship. 
Those promises have in some cases not been 
carried out at all, and in other cases they have 
only been carried out partially, or according to 
the letter and not according to the spirit. 

Practically, political liberty does not yet exist 
in Russia, and the rights of political citizenship 
are still a vain dream. 

Every now and then the spokesmen of the 


Government inform us that the Russian people 
are quite indifferent as to legislative reform, and 
that all they care for is competent administration. 
I think, however, putting aside altogether the 
question whether competent administration can 
be obtained without legislative reform, that 
nobody will deny that some people in Russia 
want political liberty. It would be equally 
difficult to deny that the absence of political 
liberty indirectly hampers and annoys and 
exasperates a still greater number of people, 
who take no interest in politics and who foster 
no political theories of any kind. 

Hence discontent arises, which will necessarily 
vary and increase in proportion as such annoy- 
ance and exasperation is felt by a greater or 
lesser number of people. 

In the years that followed immediately on the 
publishing of the Manifesto in 1905, the policy 
of the Government during the administration of 
P. A, Stolypin was : " Order first ; Reform 
afterwards." To P. A. Stolypin fell the un- 
grateful task of restoring order. He accom- 
plished his task, successfully if drastically. And 
it is only fair to say that it ^oujd have probably 


been impossible to restore order save by drastic 
measures. It must also be said in fairness that 
P. A. Stolypin initiated certain large measures 
which tend towards reform his Land Bill and 
his Education Bill, for instance. But the re- 
forms initiated during his administration, and 
during that of his successor, have as yet only 
been partial ; and so far the practical policy of 
the Government has consisted in taking away, 
curtailing, and limiting with one hand what has 
been given with the other. 

This is partly due to the constant introduction 
of qualifying clauses and amendments in any new 
laws that are liberal in spirit amendments which 
have the effect of hindering the practical operation 
of the laws ; and partly to the quality of the local 
administration, whose duty it is to interpret and 
to execute the laws. As a general rule, the local 
administrative officials, by the manner of their 
interpretation, are completely successful in sacri- 
ficing the spirit to the letter of the law, and of 
depriving the laws of their true meaning, and of 
rendering them null and void in practice. 

Such a policy must inevitably have an exas- 
perating effect on the population. 


Let us look into the matter a little more closely. 

The 'Manifesto of October 30 promised, firstly, 
the creation of a deliberative and legislative 
assembly without whose consent no new laws in 
the future should be passed ; and secondly, the 
full rights of citizenship namely, the inviola- 
bility of the person, freedom of conscience, free- 
dom of the Press, the right of organizing public 
meetings, and of founding unions and associations. 

How far and in what manner have these prom- 
ises been fulfilled ? How far are these things a 
practical factor in Russian political life to-day ? 

Let us take the Duma first. 

We have already seen that the Duma possesses 
a considerable indirect influence, and that by its 
very existence, and quite apart from what it may 
effect or fail to effect legislatively, a change has 
come about in the government of Russia ; but 
in spite of this, the powers, or rather the power, of 
the Duma is to a certain extent paralyzed by the 
attitude of the Central Government towards it. 

The attitude of the Government towards the 
Duma is a curious one. Firstly, by its inter- 
pretation of the law, by the addition of qualifying 
clauses and amendments, the Government tries, 


whenever it can, to diminish the powers that 
have been granted to the Duma, and more 
especially in so far as they concern the Budget ; 
and secondly, the Government floods the Duma 
with a great quantity of irrelevant and trivial 
legislation with the object of keeping the more 
vital and important issues out of its reach. 

This is one reason why any prevailing discon- 
tent is prevented from subsiding, since by acting 
in this manner the Government never ceases 
to fan the smouldering ashes of discontent into 
flame, and to feed the flame with slender but 
continuous supplies of fresh fuel. 

So far, then, we have already one cause of 
I discontent the attitude of the Government 
towards the Duma ; and this attitude consists, 
in a word, of doing everything it can to prevent 
the Duma from becoming a reality a vital factor 
in the State and in trying to convert it into 
a passive annex to the Government machine. 

The second question now arises. What has 
been, and what is, the attitude of the Central 
Government towards the remaining promises 
made by the Manifesto of October 30th? I 
will take the promises separately; but before 


doing so, it will be as well to point out that, at 
present, all matters which are affected by the 
promises laid down in the Manifesto of 1905 are 
being carried out by temporary regulations, 
instead of by laws passed through the Duma. 
It is clear that temporary regulations lend 
themselves easily to amendment, and amend- 
ments signify a deviation from the original 
intention of such regulations. Moreover, all 
temporary regulations are interpreted by the 
local officials, whose powers of interpretation 
are necessarily arbitrary, and whose powers 
of evasion, explanation, and general tergiversa- 
tion are incredibly ingenious, and are almost 
invariably employed in the interests of reaction. 
I will now take the various points in order. 

(1.) The Inviolability of the Person. With 
regard to this question, practically nothing has 
been done. A Bill on the subject was introduced 
by the Government during the third session of 
the last Duma, but was rejected by the Duma 
because it did not affect the root of the ques- 
tion. Another Bill was introduced later, 
but has not yet emerged into the region of 
fact. The laws of the country on this point 


are brief and explicit. They guarantee to the sub- 
ject a slightly protracted form of habeas corpus., 
and are summed up in twelve short clauses; 
but if you buy the book containing these twelve 
short clauses, you find they are followed by a 
whole volume of amendments, explanations, and 
rules relating to exceptional circumstances. 
Practically, these exceptions deal for the greater 
part with so-called political offences ; but owing 
to the ramifications of these manifold amend- 
ments, both the central and the local authorities 
can enlarge their conception of what constitutes a 
political offence to almost any extent. The inter- 
pretation becomes infinitely elastic ; and thus it is 
easy for people who have no more to do with poli- 
tics than the man in the moon to fall under the 
suspicion of a political offence, and the life of 
everyday people is reached and touched by the 
ramifications of exceptional clauses made to a clear 
law, which was originally passed in order to deal 
with cases germane to one exceptional matter, and 
which could only therefore affect a small minority. 
Again, all the ordinary laws of the country 
can be suspended and overruled by the putting 
into force of temporary regulations, which are 


introduced by the authorities as administrative 
measures in districts which are, or are supposed 
to be, disturbed. 

These temporary measures are in reality minor 
forms and shades of martial law. They consist 
of what are called the state of " Reinforced 
Protection," and the state of " Extraordinary 

Both these exception " states " may be pro- 
claimed by the Ministry of the Interior, after a 
resolution of the Cabinet Council, which must be 
confirmed by the Emperor. 

Under the state of " Reinforced Protection," 
governors-general, governors, and city prefects 
have the right of inflicting punishment for the 
infringement of any rules they may issue by a 
imp, not exceeding 500 roubles (50), or by a 
term of imprisonment not exceeding three months, 
without trial. They have also, among other things, 
the right of prohibiting public or private meetings, 
of shutting commercial establishments, of prohibit- 
ing the residence of any person in a given district. 

Under the state of " Extraordinary Protec- 
tion" their powers are enlarged. For instance, 

a special police can be created, and certain 



offences can be removed from the jurisdiction of 
ordinary courts of law and can be tried by 
courts-martial ; newspapers and periodicals can 
be suspended, and schools can be closed for a 
period not exceeding one month. The state of 
" Reinforced Protection " is still in force at this 
moment in many parts of Russia, and although 
one reads from time to time in the newspaper that 
it has been removed from such and such a place 3 
it often happens that it is merely the name which 
has been abolished. The governor will often con- 
tinue to exercise rights which are supposed to 
apply solely to exceptional circumstances. 

Further, these " States of Protection " are 
often left in force in places where there is not, 
and has not been for a reasonable time, a shadow 
of disturbance. 

(2.) Freedom of Conscience. A law whose 
sole object was religious tolerance was passed a 
few years ago. Theoretically freedom of con- 
science is supposed to exist. Practically, it 
exists only very partially. If there are fifty 
members of any religious denomination in any 
place in Russia, they are supposed to be allowed 
to build a church, where they can worship as they 


please. But there is a clause in this law forbid- 
ding propaganda ; and lately the interpretation 
of this clause has become more and more elastic, 
and in virtue of it technical objections are raised 
showing that Catholic or Uniate, or other unor- 
thodox societies, are not in order, and their 
churches are consequently closed. Sometimes 
technical objections of another nature are 
found to meet the case. A case in point 
is that of the Catholic Uniates who were 
allowed by P. A. Stolypin to have a church in 
St. Petersburg. That church has now been 
closed by the Minister of the Interior, Maklakov, 
on the grounds that the church building does 
not fulfil the technical conditions obligatory 
to buildings where public meetings are held. 
Nothing could be more typical. The tendency 
during the last three years has been to take away 
by means of technical objections, or under the 
pretence of having discovered traces of propa- 
ganda, the larger liberties that were given. And 
this again irritates all those whom it may con- 
cern. As soon as any religious sect is suspected 
of opening rivalry to the Orthodox Church, 
some means or other ip immediately found for 


prohibiting it. The Salvation Army are not 
allowed in Russia. Such things being the case, 
it would be absurd to say that liberty of con- 
science exists in Russia ; on the other hand, it 
exists in larger measure than it used to. 

(3.) Freedom of tlie Press. Broadly speaking, 
the Press is free in Russia at present, and this is 
perhaps the greatest asset which resulted from 
the revolutionary movement. Before 1905, there 
existed what in practice, although not in theory, 
was called " Previous Censure " that is to say, 
representatives of the censorship used to visit 
the newspaper offices and censor the newspapers 
at their own sweet will. At present people can 
write what they choose in the newspapers, but 
the administration has the right to inflict a fine 
not exceeding 500 roubles (50) on a newspaper 
(a) for publishing false news concerning the 
Government; and (6) for inciting the populace 
to rise against the Government ; and in the case 
of " Extraordinary Protection," newspapers, as 
we have seen, can be stopped altogether. 

The effect of this regulation is felt far more in 
the provinces than in the large cities, for it 
stands to reason that a small newspaper with a 


narrow circulation will be more sensitive to such 
a fine than a large newspaper with an enormous 
circulation, to which it will be no more than a 
flea-bite. Moreover, the regulation is applied 
more often and more indiscriminately in the 
provinces than in the large cities. 

For instance, the Moscow newspaper, the 
RussJcoe Slovo, which I believe has the largest 
circulation of any Russian newspaper, published 
on November 7, 1913, the following schedule 
of the fines imposed on newspapers for comments 
on the Beiliss trial up to date : 

October 24 (November 7, N.S.). 

Pamphlets confiscated . . . . 1 

Newspapers fined . . . . . . 1 

Total fines, 200 roubles (about 20). 

Total for 30 days of the Beiliss Case. 

Editors arrested * . . . . . 6 

Editors summoned . . . . . . 6 

Newspapers confiscated . , , . 27 

Pamphlets confiscated , * 6 

Newspapers closed . . . . . . 3 

Newspapers fined . . . . . . 42 

Total of fines (up to date) 12,750 roubles 
(about 1,275). 


A similar schedule, with its daily total of fines, 
appeared every day during the ritual murder 

It will be seen that the fines, when added up, 
do not amount to a very considerable sum, but a 
succession of such fines, not large in themselves, 
can end by doing damage to a small provincial 
paper. In any case they exercise an irritating 

Here again the question of interpretation 
plays an important part. 

Almost anything can be interpreted as coming 
under the head of " false news concerning the 
Government/ 9 and it is often easy to catch a 
newspaper out of a technical inaccuracy, al- 
though the statement made may in its substance 
be true. 

For instance, if in a schedule such as that I 
have quoted it were stated that the editor of 
such and such a provincial newspaper had been 
arrested, and supposing the fact were true ; but 
supposing also he had been subsequently re- 
leased, and the news of his release had not 
reached the newspaper which published the news 
of his arrest, the newspaper would be fined for 


spreading false news with regard to the action 
of the Government. 

Supposing, again, a regulation in a provincial 
district had been infringed by an official, and 
the news of the infringement were published in 
a newspaper ; if the newspaper made a mistake 
with regard to the exact rank of the official in 
question, it would be fined for spreading false 

Newspapers that copy news from other news- 
papers which come under the ban of " false 
news " are likewise liable to be fined. 

This state of things, although it leaves the 
richer newspapers indifferent, exasperates the 
great mass of the journalistic world beyond 

(4.) The right of holding Public Meetings. 
Public meetings are allowed, theoretically, under 
certain conditions. In the first place, in order to 
hold a meeting you must apply for permission 
to the local governor, and state the object of 
the meeting. If the local governor refuses, 
you must give up the idea. 

Secondly, a member of the police must be 
present at any meeting, who shall have the right 


of putting a stop to the proceedings if he thinks 
the speakers are showing signs of &n anti-govern- 
mental tendency. 

The police have in the last few years con- 
tinually enlarged their conception of what can 
be considered anti-governmental., so much so 
that they often go to a meeting with the sole 
purpose of stopping it, and seize the first pretext 
of so doing, especially if it is a meeting of work- 
ing men. The net result .of- the policy is that 
public meetings are rare, even at election times. 
Even the programmes of concerts must be 
sanctioned by the police. 

(5.) Associations and Societies. These had a 
brief and flourishing existence immediately after 
the publication of the Manifesto, during the 
administration of Count Witte and the session of 
the first Duma ; since then they have practically 
ceased to exist. They are entirely subject to 
Government control, and have been controlled 
out of all existence. 

These five clauses which I have just analyzed, 
if they were carried out in practice, would confer 
on the Russian citizen complete rights of citizen- 
ship in a word, political liberty. As it is, 


they are either not carried out at all, or in so far 
as they are carried out they operate in virtue 
of temporary regulations which are (a) liable to 
constant amendment ; (b) at the mercy of the 
interpretation of local officials. 

So, if the attitude of the Government towards 
the Duma is one great cause of discontent, the 
nature and the tendency of local administration 
is another. 

The local administration is bad in itself, and 
has the effect of exasperating the people. 

One of the reasons why this is so, is the neces- 
sity which the local officials feel themselves to be 
under of keeping up their prestige, and the 
prestige of the Central Government. The result 
of the policy of " Order first ; Reform afterwards," 
as it filtered through the various branches of 
administration throughout the country, is that 
the greatest crime in the eyes of the administra- 
tion is criticism criticism of any kind because 
the slightest breath of criticism is held to 
be subversive and detrimental to the prestige 
of Government ; and in the eyes of the offi- 
cials, the Government must be upheld at all 


In the country, in the provinces and districts, 
at the present day in Russia, the illegality 
practised by Government officials is more flagrant 
than it was before 1905, because before 1905 
illegality came from above, and from above only, 
and the local Government officials did not dare 
to infringe their obligations, but now the illegality 
is decentralized, and disseminated throughout 
the complicated network of administration. And 
since any kind of criticism is looked upon as a 
crime, those who are guilty of it ? or are sus- 
pected of being guilty of it, are liable to meet 
with every kind of small restriction, check, and 
annoyance, and hence the life of the people 
is interfered with, and discontent is engen- 

Nowhere is this clearer than in the part played 
by the secret police. 

We have said that criticism is regarded as a 
crime, and as an attack on the prestige of Govern- 
ment, but the reason of this is that criticism of 
governmental methods or officials is regarded 
as being synonymous with sympathy with the 
revolutionaries, and the ideas of the extreme 
parties, and this wide definition of criticism 


includes religious propaganda, the spreading 
of false news, and all anti-governmental speech 
or action. All these things are regarded as de- 
noting sympathy with revolution, and revolution 
in its extreme form. 

This is the view of the administration as a 
whole, and the view is strongly reflected in the 
action of the secret police, which exists all over 
the country; and the business of the secret 
police is, if not to spread discontent, to make it 
appear far more formidable than it is ; to make 
it appear active where in reality it is only passive, 
otherwise there would be no reason why a large 
part of the secret police should exist at all. 

In order to check and keep an eye on the 
revolutionary movement, whose existence the 
administration suspects everywhere, a wholesale 
system of espionage, of secret reports, of private 
denunciation, exists. The administration em- 
ploys a quantity of people who are paid to 
" sneak " of what is going on in various quarters. 
Now the step from the office of spy to that of 
agent provocateur is an easy one. It is obvious 
that a spy who wishes for further information 
about people who are thought to be revolution- 


aries will obtain that information more easily 
if he pretends to be a revolutionary himself. 
So the spy easily degenerates into the agent 
provocateur, and the people, knowing that spies 
and agents provocateurs exist in their midst, feel 
they are never safe. And this feeling that you 
are never safe, whoever you are, or wherever 
you are (for a report may be at any moment 
being concocted about you, in the very milieu 
where you live), gives a constantly increasing 
stimulus to discontent. It is not so much the 
things that happen, but the feeling that some- 
thing may happen, that nobody is safe, which, 
prevents discontent from dying out. Here, as 
in other respects, the life of the people is 
interfered with, and the people are exasper- 

All that I have written so far applies to Russia 
proper, but it is applicable in a higher degree 
to the Ukraines, to Poland, the Caucasus, the 
Baltic provinces, and to Finland. 

In these provinces the arbitrary nature of 
local administration and the illegality practised 
by Government officials is felt more strongly 
still than in Russia. Consequently, in all these 


outlying dominions, there prevails a greater or a 
lesser degree of discontent. And this discontent 
is further increased by the policy of the Central 
Government towards these dominions ; for the 
Government vis-a-vis of the Duma makes 
capital out of the question of these different 
nationalities, and places in the foreground ques- 
tions of legislation which concern them. They 
are used as a political weapon, as a spring-board 
for nationalist theory and practice, and as a 
means for shelving measures of reform, which 
deal with Russia proper. This not only ex- 
asperates these various nationalities to a high 
degree, but it also exasperates those Russians 
who wish to see the reforms that were prom- 
ised realized in their own country. 

Finally, the question arises, " Why is this 
so ? " What prevents Russia from being quietly 
governed according to the comprehensive laws 
that already exist in its code, and according to 
the admirable and perspicuous principles of its 
political constitution ? and further, what pre- 
vents the Government from fulfilling those 
promises made, which are as yet unfulfilled, 
and from putting into practice reforms which 


the majority of thinking people in Russia agree 
are indispensable ? 

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to give a 
satisfactory and categorical answer to these 

Political Liberals in Russia would probably 
answer that the old regime which was scotched 
but not killed in 1905 is gradually recovering 
strength, and is simply ^hting^^fiSs^existence : 
that it is a case of self-preservation. On the 
other hand, there are Independent Conservatives 
and Independent Radicals who would tell you 
that what is needful in Russia is a strong ex- 
ecutive, a drastic and courageous dictator, who 
would be strong enough to hew down the im- 
pediments, and cart away the rubbish, and govern 
Russia according to its ancient traditions ; that 
this is the only form of government which has 
ever been successful in Russia, but that no such 
man of action is forthcoming at present. Others, 
more sceptically inclined, would probably remind 
you that every country has the government it 
deserves ; and that if political liberty in Russia 
does not exist, it is owing to the fundamental 
tendency of the Russian character towards i 


cipline, and that since every Russian is more or 
less undisciplined, it is impossible for them to 
expect that their Government will be anything 
but arbitrary. 

One thing is certain, the drawbacks, the re- 
straint, the impediments, the danger of criticism, 
the checks on free speech, on free worship, and 
other forms of freedom, to which I have alluded, 
naturally touch the educated part of the popu- 
lation more nearly than they do the great mass 
the majority, the peasants who at this moment 
are better off economically than they have ever 
been before ; and consequently, even if they 
are discontented, it stands to reason that in the 
present circumstances it would need a powerful 
stimulus to increase their discontent to breaking 

And what is true about the peasants is true, 
to a certain extent, about the remainder of the 

The population on the whole are prosperous 
at the present moment, and their grievances are 
neither sharp nor strong enough, nor sufficiently 
abundant, to make the temperature of their 
discontent rise to boiling point. When the 


discontent which now exists becomes sufficiently 
widely and deeply felt to stir the average man to 
sympathy with action, and the abnormal man 
to violent action, then there may be an out- 
break, unless it be anticipated by timely meas- 
ures of reform, and the causes of discontent be 

At present nothing is being done by the 
Central Government or the local administration 
in this direction. At the present moment the 
local administration is making capital out of 
the fear of a revolution and a revolutionary 
movement, of whose existence there is little or 
no evidence, and infecting the central adminis- 
tration with this fear. Both the local and the 
central administration are constantly taking 
steps and issuing minor repressive measures to 
counteract a danger which, in the opinion of 
most people, exists only in the imagination of 
detectives ; but if this policy continues, it is 
more than probable that the administrative 
powers will in time succeed in transforming the 
danger from an imaginary one into a real one, or 
rather, they will create the very danger they are 
afraid of; and the next revolution in Russia 


will be the offspring of the fears of the adminis- 
tration of a bogey. 

The last revolutionary movement in Russia 
had a destructive and demoralizing effect on the 
population ; it produced a wave of hooliganism 
among the lower classes, and a current of an- 
archical thought and conduct in the educated 
classes. It also had a demoralizing effect on the 
minor officials and public servants ; but whereas 
in the great majority of the uneducated and 
educated public the balance of equilibrium was 
automatically restored, owing to the necessities 
of everyday life and a natural reaction towards 
common sense, this demoralization had a more 
lasting effect on the officials, who once having 
been used to meet exceptional circumstances 
and lawless acts by arbitrary means and illegal 
measures, found it difficult to divest themselves 
of the habit. And the lower the rung of the 
official ladder the more apparent the demoraliza- 
tion becomes. 

Now, it is the small officials who are more 
intimately in touch with the population. Con- 
sequently the effect of their action is being con- 
tinually felt, and the effect is bad. And until 


something is done from above to remedy this 
state of things, the smouldering embers of dis- 
content, as I have already said, will never have 
a chance of growing cold, and may ultimately 
burst out in a fire of alarming proportions. 



HT^HE great danger in studying Russian life is to 
-* pay so much importance to the trees that 
the wood escapes notice. The temptation to do 
so where Russia is concerned is all the greater 
owing to the interest of individual trees ; and 
by individual trees I mean not only individuals, 
but phases, tendencies, currents of thought, par- 
ticular types, and political parties. Such types, or 
schools of thought, or political groups, although 
often of great interest in themselves, are rarely 
representative of the average tendency; and 
yet by foreigners it is often taken for granted 
that they are not only typical of the whole, but 
that nothing else beside them exists. 

There was a time when Russia was supposed to 
consist entirely of Nihilists and policemen ; at a 
later period social revolutionaries took the part 


of Nihilists, and the agent provocateur played the 
chief part in the opposing camp, in the general 
view one obtained from the foreign press. 

This general view was, of course, founded on 
fact. At one period Nihilists did exist, did 
conspire, and did blow up. 

As for social revolutionaries, they existed in 
great quantities, and the agents provocateurs, too, 
became so numerous that it was scarcely worth 
while to be a social revolutionary. These groups 
are historically and psychologically worthy of 
careful study, but they were never representa- 
tive of the average Russian, any more than the 
Fabians or the militant suffragettes are repre- 
sentative of the average Englishman and Eng- 

Then, again, you get the interesting types 
created by the masters of literature. You get 
Dostoievsky's neurasthenic murderer; Raskolni- 
kov, his frigid and calculating political intriguer ; 
Vervkhovensky, his undisciplined and centrifugal 
Dimitri Karamazov. You get Turgeniev's in- 
tellectual and uncompromising Bazarov ; his en- 
thusiastic sponger and genie sans portefeuille, 
Rudin ; Tolstoi's Levin, Gorki's anarchical pro- 


letarian. And all these characters are each of 
them more interesting than the other, and all 
of them reveal qualities that are Russian and 
nothing but Russian. But none of them is the 
average Russian, because the man of genius, when 
he creates a type such as Lear or Faust, is not 
endeavouring to portray the average man, but 
is making a synthesis of the human soul ; so 
that every human being can see something of 
himself in the mirror of the poet's creation. But 
that creation is larger and wider than nature; 
and so far from being confined to the character- 
istics of the average man, contains within itself 
all the possibilities and capabilities and passions 
of the human soul all the strings of the instru- 
ment, its whole gamut, its complete range of 

And the creations of a Russian novelist such 
as Dostoievsky afford us a synthesis of the 
Russian soul, in its profoundest depths, in 
its sorest spots, at its widest extremes, at its 
highest pitch of rapture or despair. The result is 
that they are no more portraits of the average 
Russian than Lear is a portrait of the average 
Englishman; and yet they are profoundly Rus- 


sian, just as Lear is profoundly English, and 
Faust is profoundly German although Faust is 
hardly a typical portrait of the ordinary German 

One of the results which the genius of Russian 
novelists has had on foreign opinion is to create 
a general impression that Russia is a country of 
" inspissated gloom," because the greater num- 
ber of the Russian novelists and poets deal with 
tragic themes, and their characters are painted 
in sombre colours. 

There is nothing very strange about this. 
Happy individuals, like happy countries, have no 
history; and if you want to write drama, and 
especially tragic drama, the domestic affairs of 
(Edipus Rex or Othello obviously offer more fruit- 
ful material to the dramatist than the domestic 
affairs of Darby and Joan or of Philemon and 
Baucis. Even if the writer's aim is comedy, 
he will probably choose themes and material 
which give occasion for merciless satire or ex- 
. travagant mirth, and create characters which on 
the comic side are as far above or below the 
average as those of the poets on the tragic side. 
falstaff is just as extraordinary $ Character a 


Hamlet., and Sam Weller is just as exceptional 
as Napoleon ; yet Sam Weller, again, is pro- 
foundly English. 

In Russia, just as in other countries, the 
cheerful side of life is reflected in literature, and 
the average man plays a part also only that 
branch of Russian literature is less well known. 
Gogol, for instance, has created innumerable 
comic types; and Pushkin has, in his master- 
piece, Evgenie Oniegin, drawn a masterly por- 
trait of an average type, and more especially 
in Tatiana he has given us a lifelike portrait of 
the soul of the Russian woman, which is a radiant 
soul. But Gogol is less well known abroad than 
Turgeniev; and Pushkin's work being written 
in verse, suffers badly from inadequacy or, 
rather, impossibility of translation. 

The net result is that the impression the out- 
side reader obtains from such Russian literature 
as is available to him is that Russia is a gloomy 
country, and that the Russian people are steeped 
in a cloud of permanent melancholy. And yet 
the first thing that strikes you when you go to 
Russia is the cheerfulness* of the people and 

* Ciieerf ulness, not gaiety. 


the good humour of the average man. Not 
long ago, apropos of an article on Dostoievsky's 
Idiot, a well-known Russian artist wrote to 
The Times, saying that you might just as 
well judge the English people by The City oj 
Dreadful Night as the Russian people by Dos- 
toievsky's characters. The writer of the article 
explained, in answer, that he was not judging 
the Russian people at all, but only the faith of 
Dostoievsky. And although I think the writer's 
purpose was plain, and that he achieved it 
admirably, nevertheless the Russian artist's 
complaint, if it did not appty to the writer of 
that article, was a wholesome reminder to the 
public in general that the creations of Dostoievsky 
are creations of genius, and creations of tragic 
genius profoundly Russian, but dealing almost 
exclusively with the tragic adventures of the 
soul (which is, after all, the business of tragedy), 
and leaving out its sunnier experiences. As 
the Russian artist pointed out, there is an- 
other side to the medal of Russian life, and not 
only a bright side, but an unusually bright side 
the svietlaya dmcha, the radiant soul of which 
the Russian poet speaks, whose radiance, in my 


opinion, is nowhere plainer than in Dostoievsky's 
novels, in spite of, and sometimes even because 
of, the encircling gloom. 

It stands to reason that, if all Russians were 
as melancholy as they are depicted as being in 
many Russian novels and plays written by men 
of genius, the great majority of the Russian 
nation would have cut their throats a long time 

It is evident that there must be a great deal of 
cheerfulness, humour, at)d joy to counterbalance 
the gloom, the anguish, and the melancholy which 
is so vividly and so poignantly described by so 
many Russian authors, or else life would not 
go on. 

This is just what is the case. The Russian 
goes easily to extremes : he is not, as a rule, fond 
of half measures ; so that when he is melan- 
choly, his melancholy takes an extreme form. 
He is fond of going the whole hog; and if he 
is inclined to neurasthenia and hysteria, he will 
give full scope to his fancy in that direction: 
he will be not uninclined to say with Baudelaire, 
"" J'ai cultivt mon TiysUrie avec jouissance et 




But the average Russian is, perhaps, little 
more inclined to neurasthenia than the average 
Englishman. The average Russian is well-edu- 
cated, cheerful, sociable, intensely gregarious, 
hospitable, talkative, expansive, good-humoured, 
and good-natured. You hear often in Russia 
the phrase shirokaya natura applied to the Rus- 
sian temperament a large nature. It means 
that the Russian temperament is generous, un- 
stinted, democratic, and kind. Good-hearted- 
ness, and sometimes great-heartedness, is the 
great asset of the average Russian. He is the 
most tolerant of human beings. He is pre- 
eminently indulgent, and extends to the faults 
and failings of his neighbours the same indul- 
gence which he knows his own faults and fail- 
ings will receive at his neighbour's hands. His 
lack of hypocrisy, and the manner in which he 
will speak of his own shortcomings and defi- 
ciencies, will sometimes strike the foreigner as 
being the quintessence of cynicism. 

One of the most contented Russians I ever met 
was a man who had got the post of assistant 
ticket-collector on a small railway line. His 
duty was to check the ticket collector. This man 


had once upon a time been enormously rich. 
He had possessed estates, where he entertained 
his friends on a large scale, and provided them 
with every kind of amusement in the way of 
sport. Besides this, he had a private theatre of 
his own and a private orchestra. He spent all 
his money in this way, until there was none left, 
and he was obliged to accept what post he could 
get. But as an insignificant public servant on 
the railway line he was just as cheerful as ever ; 
he said that he had just as much fun. " I used 
to drink champagne," he explained, " now I 
drink vodka ; the result is the same in the long- 
run. I used to have a lot of money. IVe spent 
it ; money is meant to spend. What is the good 
of keeping or hoarding it? One can't take it 
with one when one dies." 

This man had a shirokaya natura a large and 
generous temperament. There was no trace of 
neurasthenia observable in his character. Stingi- 
ness is a quality which is rare in Russia. Thrift 
and economy axe not among those virtues which 
are commonest there. On the other hand, 
broadness of mind and largeness of heart are 
virtues which are among the commonest. 


After Count Tolstoy died a posthumous play 
of his was published, called The Living Corpse. 
The subject of the play was a story that hap- 
pened in real life, taken straight from the news- 
paper, with the names and the milieu changed, 
and it struck me, when I read it and saw it 
acted, as being typical of Russian life a story 
which could only happen in Russia. It is per- 
haps worth while retelling it here, as it throws 
more light on the subject than pages of argu- 

The story is as follows. Liza Protasova leaves 
her husband Feodor, whom she had loved, be- 
cause he is 

" A little slovenly in dress, 
A trie prone to drunkenness." 

Not a bad man, but weak, extravagant, and 
given to periodic outbreaks, when he spends the 
night listening to gipsies singing, and drinking 
champagne. You must know Russia to under- 
stand what listening to gipsies means, and you 
must be well inoculated with gipsy music before 
vou understand the tyrannical spell of it. It is 
in a lesser degree like smoking opium. 

Apart from these more or less venial failings, 


Feodor, as I have said, is not a bad man, nor is 
he even an unfaithful husband. Nevertheless, 
his wife, after one of these periodic outbursts, 
leaves him and returns to her mother, who thor- 
oughly approves of such a course. But no sooner 
has Liza taken this step than she repents her- 
self of it, and she sends Feodor a message by one 
Karenin asking him to come back to her. Ea- 
renin is an honest prig and a bore. He is also 
in love with Liza. He executes the commission ; 
but Feodor is listening to the gipsies, and espe- 
cially to one of them called Masha, and he re- 
fuses to go back. 

Weeks go by, and then months. Karenin 
loves Liza ; Liza loves Karenin. Masha loves 
Feodor. Liza's mother wishes her daughter to 
be divorced and to marry Karenin. An em- 
bassy with this proposal is dispatched to Feodor, 
But according to the Russian law in such a case, 
in order to get a divorce when a wife has left 
her husband because she no longer wishes to be 
his wife, the husband must take the guilt on 
himself. He must declare himself a guilty, un- 
faithful husband; and if he is not one, he must 
concoct sham evidence to show that he is, and 


swear to It. This Feodor refuses to do, because 
lie is not guilty ; he has not been unfaithful. 
He says, " I have been a bad husband, I am a 
worthless man ; but there are things which I 
cannot do, and one of them is quietly to tell the 
necessary lies in order to make this divorce 
possible." He seeks another solution. He finds 
a simple one suicide. But when the revolver 
is at his temple he hesitates, in an agony ; and 
at that moment Masha the gipsy intervenes, 
sees what is happening, and suggests another 
solution that he should let the world think he 
had killed himself, and in reality escape with 
her into the limbo of the disclassed, leaving his 
wife free to marry Karenin. He does this. He 
writes a letter to his wife, saying that he is 
about to kill himself ; he leaves his clothes by 
the river. The plan succeeds ; by chance a 
corpse is found. Liza says it is that of her 
husband (and it is no use saying that this is 
improbable, because it all happened). Feodor 
and Masha disappear, and Karenin marries Liza. 
All is for the best, for them. 

Feodor sinks deeper into the mud; and one 
fine day, when he is telling his story to a friend 


in a squalid tavern, he is overheard by a kind 
of tramp, who, quick to see the possible profit 
arising out of such a situation, suggests to Feodor 
a scheme of joint blackmail that they should 
blackmail Liza. Feodor tells him to go to what 
I see now is prettily called " the underground 
world ; " and the tramp, in a rage, calls a police- 
man and gives Feodor in charge for bigamy. 
But not only is Feodor had up for bigamy, 
but his wife and Karenin also : they are 
charged with conspiracy if that be the right 
term for having been privy to the scheme, 
and for having paid Feodor to get out of the 
way and to become a " living corpse." The 
maximum penalty of the law for bigamy is 
exile to Siberia ; the minimum what is -called 
" Church contrition." But in any case the second 
marriage is cancelled, and if Karenin, Feodor, 
and Liza were acquitted of conspiracy, Liza and 
Feodor would nevertheless be bound to resume 
their interrupted married life. The lawyers do 
not believe a word of the true story as it is told 
by the witnesses ; and Feodor, to prevent Liza 
from being bound to him once more, commits 
suicide in the corridor of the law courts during 


the trial That is the story, Mid such are the 
facts such as they actually ^happened in real 
life. / 

In this story Feodor, bojii in his faults and in 
his good qualities, is intensely typical of the 
Russian character. 

This story illustrates the melancholy side of 
Russian life. To convince yourself of the cheer- 
ful side of the Russian character, you have only 
to look at any regiment of Russian soldiers 
marching through a street and singing as they 
march. It is the melancholy note of Russian 
music that is best known abroad. But cheerful 
songs and choruses exist in great abundance, and 
if you listen to the people in villages singing 
in the summer night, it is nearly always a cheer- 
ful song that you will hear to the accompaniment 
of the accordion ; and often the songs are not 
only cheerful but irresistible in their lilt. The 
sense of rhythm of some of the village singers, 
and especially of the accompanists, whether 
they play the accordion or the three-stringed 
guitar, the balalaika, is sure, masterly, and 
astounding. The accompanist follows the singer 
with an infinite diversity in unity, and while 


varying all the time, and introducing fantastic 
changes and daring improvisations., he never 
loses hold of the main trend of the subject, of 
the fundamental rhythm : he varies with in- 
variable law. 

Such music is infectious and captivating. It 
would inspire the lame to dance and the dead to 
walk. It is untiring. It seems to be able to go 
on and on for ever without pause or hesitation, 
and to reveal a fresh energy and to draw a new 
supply of strength with every new verse. 

The average Russian is not only fond of music 
he likes noise. Formerly in the restaurants 
there used to be large barrel organs or orchestrons. 
Now in the smarter restaurants there are bands 
of stringed instruments, and in the eating-houses 
of the poor, gramophones. Indeed, the popu- 
larity of gramophones in Russia is extraordinary. 
A love of gramophones is surely the sign of a 
cheerful temperament. 

The amusement which the Russian is fondest 
of when he wants to have a really good time is 
to go and listen to gipsies. The entertainment 
is worth describing, as it is the unique property 

of Russia, and is the one thing you can almost 



be sure the average Russian will understand^ 
just as you will be sure tlie average Englishman 
will understand a sporting contest or a music- 
hall comic turn. 

Looked at from the outside, as you see it, for 
instance, on the stage in Tolstoy's play, this is 
what you see. A private room in a restaurant. 
It is rather dingy. In the corner there is a battered 
piano, much the worse for wear. On the walls, 
looking-glasses. At one end of the room a plush 
sofa. In front of it a table, champagne bottles, 
and glasses. 

The spectators sit on the sofa. In front of 
them, occupying the whole of the other side of 
the room, is the chorus of gipsies. The gipsies 
are not raggle-taggle people in shabby and gor- 
geous clothes. They are a chorus of men and 
women in ordinary dress, who, though swarthy 
in complexion, look like the audience in the 
upper circle at a Queen's Hall concert. 

The gipsies show signs of the boredom and 
fatigue common to professionals engaged in the 
performance of their professional duties. They 
yawn. One of them has got a toothache and a 
swollen face- They carry on an undercurrent of 


irrelevant conversation amongst themselves, while 
they automatically sing. The outsider will notice 
the mechanical side of the gaiety and the poetry 
they are paid to evoke. The candles on the table 
are guttering, and through the windows of the 
cheerless private room the cold dawn pierces, 
or the bright sun streams, as the case may be. 

But those who are of the feast, and in it, 
notice none of these things. They are there for 
glamour, and they have got it. Oblivious of 
every sordid detail, and of all the mechanism, 
they are aware only of the poetry, the romance, 
and the passion evoked by a wailing concord of 
piercing, discordant sounds which play on the 
nerves like a bow upon strings. 

The chorus sit in a semicircle, a man with a 
guitar stands up and leads the chorus, his guitar 
and his body swaying to the rhythm. A woman 
takes a solo part. The chorus rises into a wail as 
loud and as fierce as the howling of a pack of 
wolves, and then dies away in an unsatisfied sigh. 

The first time you hear this monotonous and 
exasperating music you may think it disagree- 
able; but the moment you are bitten by the 
music and infected with it, the sensation is rather 


like this : first you tremble all over as with a 
fever ; then you are aware that the fever is 
pleasant. Then you forget all this : you are 
far away amid white dawns and sleepless mid- 
nights, and when you are brought back to reality, 
you demand you insist on one more glimpse 
of that sweet and bitter, that discordant and 
melodious, fairyland. 

The gipsy music certainly has the quality of 
growing on you. It intoxicates some people. 
They are bitten by it to such an extent that 
they crave for it, as for a drug. They cannot 
do without it. Others are invincibly bored. 
But to the average Russian, to go and listen to 
gipsies, when you wish to enjoy yourself especially, 
is a common custom, and an expensive custom, 
so that, as a rule, people club together when they 
wish to treat themselves to this luxury. 

The expense is part of the fun. If the average 
Russian wants to celebrate a feast of any kind 
he wishes to add to the festivity the spice of 
recklessness which the feeling that he is spending 
more than he can afford will give him. And if 
on such occasions he falls into the spending mood, 
he will spend recklessly. 


He is generous, and, as a rule, careless about 
money. An enormous amount of borrowing is 
constantly going on. A asks B to lend him a 
hundred roubles. B complies at once, although 
he hasn't got it, and borrows it from C. Laxity 
in money matters, which is fairly common, is 
probably in some degree the result of the wide- 
spread administrative venality in the past, 
which was in its turn the inevitable fruit of 
long years of unchecked bureaucracy in a large 
country. At the height of the old regime venality 
was in Russia a natural corrective to the narrow- 
ness or severity of regulations. Toleration was 
obtained by bribery. The schismatics, or the 
Jews, or any class which suffered from adminis- 
trative disabilities, got round them by bribery. 
Again, when you have a bureaucracy on a very 
large scale, a great number of the minor public 
servants cannot possibly live on their wages: 
they will be certain to supplement their insuffi- 
cient incomes by exacting and receiving bribes. 
Administrative corruption was at one time prac- 
tically universal in Russia. It has received 
much more than a considerable check since the 
creation of the Duma and the increased liberty 


of the Press, since in the Duma questions can 
be asked, and transactions can be brought to 
the public notice which in the old days were 
securely screened from all possible investigation 
or inquiry. 

The average Russian was probably not more 
venal than the average native of any other 
country. Some of the causes of his venality 
were common to the human race, and were such 
as produce venality in any time and in any 
country ; and chief amongst these is the one I 
have already mentioned the underpayment of 
the public servant. Another cause of corruption 
was the irresponsibility of officials. Until the 
Duma was made, public officials were, as a rule, 
immune from the law which in theory laid down 
severe penalties against all abuse of authority 
and all illegalities committed by officials in the 
performance of their public duties. All this has 
changed in the last ten years, and is changing 
still ; there is infinitely less administrative cor- 
ruption than there was. The average middle- 
aged Russian of to-day was brought up in an 
atmosphere in which the public revenue was re- 
garded as a fair game for exploitation, and those 


who cheated the State, or made money by bribery 
or any illicit means of any kind, were treated 
with the utmost tolerance. 

In spite of this, the average Russian is not 
one whit more dishonest or immoral than his 
fellow- creatures in neighbouring countries. But 
if he is dishonest, his failing will be far more 
noticeable than that of the dishonest in other 
countries : firstly, because he will take infinitely 
less pains, or no pains at all, to conceal it; he 
will not hide it under a veneer of hypocrisy 
he will wear it on his sleeve ; secondly, because 
he is fundamentally good-natured, and his good 
nature varies from heights of Christian charity 
on the one hand, to depths of complete moral 
laxity on the other. On the one hand you have 
Dostoievsky's utterly disinterested Mwyskin, and 
on the other hand Gogol's completely venal 
Khlestyakov. The average Russian mU prob- 
ably have a dose of both qualities. 

The average Russian is, above all things, a 
sociable being, who is fond of eating good solid 
food and drinking vodka, and who is averse to 
strenuous mental or physical exertion. This 
does not mean that you will not find any amount 


of hard workers in Russia ; but I am talking of 
the average man. And it is just the average 
man, Monsieur Tout-le-Monde, the man in the 
street, who is left out of the discussion when 
people think, talk, or write of Russia. The intel- 
lectuals are discussed, the Nihilists, the Socialists, 
the revolutionaries, the extreme reactionaries, 
the man of genius, the criminal, the martyr, 
the hero, the scoundrel, the aesthete. But the 
average Russian is, as a rule, neither a hero, 
a genius, a scoundrel, nor an aesthete. But he 
is in the long run the man who counts. It is 
with his sanction and co-operation alone that 
any great change has been made in Russian 
history. At the beginning of the Russo-Japanese 
war, he, the man in the street, was mildly in 
favour of it. After the initial reverses he was 
angrily in favour of it. After several months 
he was angrily against it, and his anger was 
directed against the Government. So much so, 
that the Government was compelled to take 
active steps, and to promise tangible reform. 
The climax of the hostility of public opinion 
happened when the whole country went on 
strike in the autumn of 1905. Then, for one 


moment, the whole of Russia was in agreement, 
and public opinion was consequently irresistible. 
Later on, when political parties were formed, 
public opinion was no longer at one, and weak- 
ness began to set in. 

Finally, when the constitutional and peaceable 
reformers had succeeded in effecting nothing 
beyond the creation of the Duma (which was 
in itself an immense step), and the militant 
reformers had merely achieved a series of spo- 
radic acts of terrorism, one result of which was 
that the whole of the criminal classes followed 
their example and adopted their methods for the 
purposes of individual hooliganism the average 
Russian, the man in the street, was alienated 
from the revolutionary movement, and no longer 
gave it his support. Naturally enough, for his 
pocket and his person were no longer safe. 
The street became no place for a man. He 
could no longer go for a walk in it without 
the possibility of having his private purse 
" expropriated." 

Political theory had become a practical fact 
with a vengeance so far as the criminal class were 
concerned. And the political terrorists had 


taught the impartial burglar the use and con- 
venience of the Browning pistol, and had shown 
him how easy it was to rob a bank by bluff or 
dynamite. And as soon as the man in the street 
condemned revolutionary methods in Russia, the 
revolutionary movement came to an end. It 
could not live without his inarticulate support, 
without his active or passive sympathy. 

And what is the average man doing or think- 
ing now ? 

The answer to such a question must neces- 
sarily depend on the exact moment at which it 
is put. Had it been put in the summer of 1913 
in July, say it would have been safe to say in 
answer to this question, and in reviewing public 
opinion during the last two years, that the average 
Russian was consciously or unconsciously feeling 
the effects of the increased and ever increasing 
prosperity of the country ; that he was manifest- 
ing indifference both towards internal and foreign 
politics ; that he was making and spending 
money, and falling into a lethargy of prosper- 
ous materialism. But the autumn of 1913 has 
already shown how rash it would have been to 
make any such definite statement, without quali- 


fication, and without leaving a door open upon 
fresh possibilities. 

In spite of the increasing prosperity of the 
country in spite of the rapid strides that edu- 
cation is making seeds of discontent, which so 
far 'from being removed from above have been 
watered from above, have lately been making 
themselves manifest. And if it is too much and 
it is too much to say that the average Russian 
is as yet affected, it is at all events true that a 
considerable section of the educated, political, 
and commercial community, including many 
men well known in the political world who had 
hitherto supported the Government, are com- 
plaining in no uncertain voice of the acts of the 

There exist in Russia a great many antiquated 
and useless things in the shape of legislative and 
hampering regulations which need sweeping 
away. If the local administration of the country 
were universally excellent and competent, the 
average man would not probably trouble his 
head about them. But the local administration 
of the country is neither excellent nor com- 
petent : its acts are often perilously illegal. And 


it is difficult to see how it could be otherwise, 
until the remains of the old regime are swept 
away from above, and a new regime is inaugu- 
rated. So far from anything being done in this 
direction, the old regime is being bolstered up ; 
and so far from keeping their promises of re- 
form, the central administration has been busy 
taking away, or limiting, what had already been 
given. The result of this has been that the 
Government has succeeded in exasperating a 
large part of the educated portion of the com- 
munity. Discontent is being expressed. The 
Government has succeeded in rousing at least 
one section of the population from the lethargy 
brought on by prosperity; and as soon as this 
discontent has become sufficiently widespread, 
and sufficiently strong and universal to cause 
the man in the street not only to speak out, 
but, if not to act, at least to sympathize with 
action, then, unless some timely measures are 
taken from above, it is possible that efforts may 
be made from below to remove the causes of 

In the meantime the man in the street is cer- 
tainly aware of the prevalence of discontent, 


and in many cases and places he is acutely 
discontented himself. It would be idle to specu- 
late on what proportions his discontent will 
reach, and what its effect will be either in the 
immediate or the remote future. The future 
will answer this question. But ultimately, 
I think, it is safe to say that the achieve- 
ment of political liberty in Russia will depend 
not on the dynamite and the death of revolu- 
tionaries however self-sacrificing and however 
ardent, nor on the measures of a statesman 
however far-seeing and however wise, but on 
the will and desire of the average man. On the 
day the average man really desires political 
liberty he will get it. So far, the only thing 
he has desired and obtained is individual liberty 
liberty of thought, HbertS des m&urs. In order 
to obtain political liberty, he will no doubt have 
to sacrifice a portion of the unbounded power he 
now enjoys of doing exactly what he likes in the 
sphere of personal conduct, because political 
liberty implies personal discipline, or a certain 
amount of personal discipline. Will the average 
Russian make a sacrifice ? That depends, per- 
haps, on what store he will ultimately set on politi- 


cal life and political freedom ; on how far indiffer- 
ence will prevail ; and also on the future policy and 
quality of the local and central administration. 
But in the long run the question as to whether 
any efforts towards obtaining political liberty will 
be successful or not, depends on the generation 
which is growing up, and which is as yet an 
unknown quantity. But whatever strange and 
new fruits the coming generation may bring 
forth, one thing is certain no vital changes will 
come about in Russian life without the conscious 
or unconscious co-operation of the average man. 



IN Russia the representatives of the liberal pro- 
fessions lawyers, doctors, prof essors, literary 
men, agricultural experts, statists, schoolmasters, 
journalists are denoted, as a rule, by the generic 
term intelligentsia. The term is elastic, and its 
use, as I know by experience, can easily lead to 
the greatest misunderstandings ; the reason of 
this being that the word is sometimes used in a 
broad sense, and sometimes in a narrow sense, 
and sometimes in a still narrower sense. That 
is to say, the word intelligentsia is sometimes 
used by Russians to denote anybody who can 
read or write, anybody who has received a cer- 
tain education. That is the broadest sense of 
the word. In this, its largest sense, the word 
means the whole of the middle class, from which 
nine-tenths of the officials and public servants 
are drawn. 


But when Russians use the word intelligentsia,, 
they generally mean the members of the liberal 
professions, exclusive of officials. 

Again, some Russians use the word intelligentsia 
in a still narrower sense, in order to denote not a 
class but a frame of mind ; they use the word 
as we use a phrase such as " Nonconformist con- 
science : " and in this sense the member of the 
intelligentsia could belong to any class, just as in 
England a Liberal, a Nonconformist, or a vege- 
tarian could belong to any class. And it is the 
use of the word in this narrower sense that leads 
to misunderstanding. For if you describe or 
speak of the attributes and the characteristics 
of the intelligentsia in this narrower sense, you 
run the risk of labelling the whole middle class 
of Russia with characteristics which do not apply 
to them; just as if in England the word Non- 
conformist were used not only to denote the 
Nonconformist sect, but the whole of the English 
middle class* 

So, before going further, it is well to make one's 
position quite clear. In using the term intelli- 
gentsia in this chapter, I mean to denote, firstly, 
the representatives of the liberal professions 


lawyers, doctors, literary men, professors, school- 
masters, students, journalists, statists, and agri- 
cultural experts the educated middle class 3 
the intellectuals ; and, secondly, the semi-intel- 
lectuals and the half-educated. 

The intellectuals form, at the present moment 
in Russia, a factor of great interest and of great 
importance. They are largely represented by a 
political party, called the Constitutional Demo- 
crats, the Kadets, which played an important part 
in the revolutionary movement. The whole mass 
of the newspapers, both in the provinces and in 
Moscow and St. Petersburg, with the exception of 
some organs of a conservative and reactionary ten- 
dency, are edited by the intellectuals among the 
intelligentsia; and the ordinary staff of every news- 
paper, who make the paper, are recruited from 
the semi-intellectuals of the intelligentsia. It was 
the intelligentsia which, in the struggle for libera- 
tion, supplied the rank and file of the army, of 
which the county councils were the spokesmen 
and the leaders. 

There is, as Mr. Stephen Grahame, one of the 
most competent of modern observers of modern 
life in Russia, says, an articulate part of the 


intelligentsia, which he calls the higher intelli- 
gentsia, containing a great number of cultured 
and educated people ; and side by side with 
this, there has sprung up lately a bourgeoisie 
that calls itself intelligentsia a lower middle 
class, which takes to itself fifty per cent, of the 
children born in the great towns to-day. Mr. 
Grahame calls this the lower intelligentsia, and 
stigmatizes this latter class in severe terms as 
being materialistic and cynical. 

I propose, then, to divide the middle class 
into two divisions the educated and the half- 

Ever since the revolutionary movement the 
intelligentsia as a whole has come in for a large 
measure of abuse, not only from its enemies, but 
from members of its own class. It has for the 
first time in its comparatively brief history, if 
we except occasional indirect criticism, been sub- 
jected to a fierce and systematic criticism from 
the inside; the reason of this being that many 
Russian thinkers are convinced that the course 
of the revolutionary movement and the action of 
the first two Dumas showed that politically the 
Russian intelligentsia was immature, inexperi- 


enced, unfit for political leadership, incapable of 
statesmanship, divorced in ideas and feelings 
from the people, and incapable of heading a 
popular movement* Some of these critics have 
gone further, and have dwelt on the religious 
indifferentism of the intelligentsia as a class as 
the explanation of the inability of the intelli- 
gentsia to act on the masses in Russia. 

" The fact is," M. Bulgakov writes in the 
Russian Review of November 1912, " that edu- 
cated or especially half-educated Russian society 
in its average representatives is almost without 
exception atheistic, or, to put it more correctly, 
indifferent to religion. A very superficial reli- 
gious indifferentism, expressed most naturally in 
atheism, is met with on all sides, and everywhere 
in the Russian intelligentsia. The various polit- 
ical tendencies and parties among the intelligentsia 
carry on violent disputes with regard to various 
dogmas of sociological and political catechism, 
but do not discuss the existence or non-existence 
of God, or this or that religious belief. Here 
there are no questions, for it is taken for granted 
that there can be no talk of religion for the edu- 
cated man, because religion is incompatible with 


enlightenment. 59 He goes on to say that the 
dogma that science has once and for all disposed 
of religion altogether is assimilated early in life 
by the " intelligent/ 9 and in most cases is not 
re-examined for the rest of his life. " In reli- 
gion the Russian intelligentsia shows a kind of 
mental deficiency; on the average it is not 
above but below ideas of religion, for it has 
never properly experienced them. 5 ' 

This being so, the critics of the intelligentsia 
go on to say " that this lack of religion con- 
demns them to remain out of touch with the 
people, for if they are divorced from the people 
in that which the people hold most sacred, how 
can they come close to them at all ? " 

There is nothing new in such criticism and 
such strictures ; nearly all outside observers of 
Russia have said the same thing in the past. 
What is new is the quarter whence the criticism 
proceeds namely, from the inside, from the 
intelligentsia itself; and this signifies that a re- 
action, or rather a revolt, is proceeding in some 
quarters amidst this prevailing materialism and 
this superficial indifierentism. 

These are questions which are of great interest 


to the Russian reader. To the English reader, 
who probably has not the slightest idea of the 
nature of the ordinary member of the intelligentsia^ 
the question is probably less interesting. 

Again> such critics, in writing for a Russian 
audience or for an English audience more or less 
acquainted with Russia, are not under the obli- 
gation of qualifying their statements by point- 
ing out the good qualities and the merits of the 
intelligentsia., because they know that their readers 
are well aware of them, and will take them for 

But as the English reader is unaware of their 
qualities, either good or bad, it would be mis- 
leading to dwell greatly on defects to those who 
are unacquainted with the general atmosphere 
and the main characteristics of the people under 

In the first place, the members of the intelli- 
gentsia are Russians. This fact, strangely enough, 
seems often to be lost sight of by their opponents, 
who talk of them as if they were made of some 
totally different substance from the remaining 
part of the Russian people. And if this is true 
of the intelligentsia, it is still more true of the 


official world. Writers, and especially English 
writers, talk of Russian officials as if they too 
were made of some different stuff as if they 
were a race apart which had nothing in common 
with the rest of the Russian people. This is 
not so. The intelligentsia and the officials are 
Russians ; and being Russians, they have certain 
qualities and certain defects which are probably 
common to all Russians, which are the natural 
result of the Russian temperament. Where 
they differ from the classes which are above 
them or beneath them is in their education 
or rather in the effect which that education 
has had upon them. The disease is the same ; 
it is the way of taking it which is different. 

They are extremely well educated ; infinitely, 
incomparably better educated than the average 
Englishman. They are sometimes over-edu- 
cated. The Russian mind assimilates with ease ; 
it apprehends with incredible quickness; it is 
sensitive, receptive, plastic, agile. Such quali- 
ties in the case of men who are naturally thought- 
ful, studious, and serious, lead, of course, to a 
wide and deep culture. But in the case of the 
half-educated in the case of people who quickly 


assimilate a smattering of the ideas that are in 
the air all over Europe the result is a radical 
immaturity, something that is immature in its 
very over-ripeness, something shallow, thin, and 

In spite of this, if you take the average Rus- 
sian of the educated middle class, he is extremely 
well educated so much better educated than the 
average educated Englishman that comparison 
would be silly. The average Scotsman would 
compare favourably with him, and the average 
German : only the Russian has a quicker, more 
adaptable mind; and he is more inquisitive of 
what is going on outside the walls of his country 
than the average Frenchman. 

If you took an average schoolboy of thirteen, 
and put him at an English public school, he 
would find the work given to an average Eng- 
lish schoolboy of thirteen not only easy, but 

Moreover, the educated Russian is far more 
catholic in his culture than the average English- 
man. A certain grasp of mathematics, of polit- 
ical economy and physical science, a knowledge 
of European history, would be looked upon by 


him as a matter of course, whereas the English 
public schools and universities turn out not only 
undergraduates but dons who have specialized 
in one subject and sometimes not well in that 
but reveal an astounding ignorance in every 
other branch of human knowledge. 

I remember once a Russian pointing out to me 
some remarks written in a popular book by an 
English don, and remarking that a Russian child 
could not possibly have written anything so silly. 
I, indeed, needed no persuasion. On the other 
hand, I remember one of the more radical mem- 
bers of the first Duma pointing out to me that 
in matters of practical political organization an 
English child could give the Russian political 
leaders points. 

Most educated Russians are familiar with the 
works of Herbert Spencer, Huxley, John Morley, 
Buckle, and John Stuart Mill. They are at the 
same time not only familiar with, but acutely 
appreciative of, humorous and serious English 
literature of Dickens, Bret Harte, WeUs, Jerome 
K. Jerome, Conan Doyle, etc. 

One of the stock things you constantly hear said 
about Russians is that they are wonderful lin- 


guists. I believe this generalization to be largely 
built on the prowess of Russian men and women 
who have had foreign nurses and governesses. 
It is true that in St. Petersburg and Moscow 
society every one talks French, and most people 
talk English, and nearly every one knows Ger- 
man. It cannot be said that the English of 
St. Petersburg is of the purest. It is a dialect 
peculiar to St. Petersburg, and full of strange 
idioms translated from the French. Such phrases 
as, for instance, " One says he is very frightful " 
(meaning, " They say he is very frightening "), 
or, " I find her a bother " (meaning a bore), 
are characteristic of that fluent dialect. How- 
ever, if it is not pure, it is at any rate fluent. 

But if you take the average representative of 
the middle classes in Russia, you will sometimes 
meet with a knowledge of French, more often 
with a knowledge of German, and seldom with 
a conversational knowledge of English ; but not 
universally with either of these three. Nor will 
you find that the average representative of the 
Russian middle class learns these languages with 
more than average speed when he is abroad ; 
although the Russian is, as a rule, very quick 



to appreciate shades of meaning and forms of 
humour which are peculiar to other languages 
than his own. 

Taken as a whole, the middle class in Russia 
is cultivated., widely and deeply cultured in its 
upper strata, and in its best representatives 
more widely cultured than the average French- 
man or German. In its lower strata, among the 
half-educated, the " little learning " that has 
been rapidly assimilated has indeed proved a 
dangerous thing, and has produced in the head 
of the individual a salad of half-baked philosophy 
and superficial Nihilism which remains fixed for 
ever like a dogma. 

In this sense the half-educated in Russia are 
in a state of adolescence. They have cast aside 
what they regard as the superstitions of boy- 
hood, and they have accepted as incontrovert- 
ible dogma the ideas which they believe to be 
the most advanced in Western Europe, and 
have poured them into a fixed mould, where 
they remain stereotyped for the rest of their 

Tliis is what M. Bulgakov means when he 
says the half-educated in Russia are not above 


religion, but below it; not superior to it, but 
inferior to it. 

In using the word half-educated, I am allud- 
ing to the larger class of people in Russia who 
have just emerged above the surface of the 
uneducated: members of the proletariat often, 
peasants sometimes who have received half an 
education, clerks and minor public servants, and 
students who have not passed any of the higher 
standards. It is amongst this class that you find 
a chaos and welter of half-baked ideas ; it is here 
that you find a jumble, a salad of ill-assimilated 
and strangely-assorted goods, a flotsam and jetsam 
of Western philosophies and theories, crystallized 
and hardened into rigid dogma, and clung to 
and paraded with a desperate amour propre and 
a fierce tenacity* It is, of course, the negative 
philosophies which are chosen. When a school- 
boy reaches the age of adolescence when he first 
makes the discovery in England, say, of Renan 
on the one hand, and of Swinburne, Ibsen, and 
Nietzsche on the other he is tremendously proud 
of what seems to him his bold and rebellious 
" views : " he labels himself a " freethinker " 
and a pagan. He is filled with iconoclastic zeal. 


He feels like young Siegfried about to storm 
Walhalla, and bid its tottering halls crumble 

before his sword. If he is at the university, he 

\j * 

will perhaps refuse to go to chapel from con- 
scientious scruples, and he will wear a red tie 
on Sunday to show he is a Socialist. 

" I read the Gospel as an ordinary book," 
said a young freethinker to the late Dr. Jowett, 
the Master of BallioL "Really, Mr. Smith," 
said the master, " you must find it a very 
extraordinary book." 

Later on he finds the question is not quite so 
simple as he imagined, and that the old-fashioned 
superstitions are tougher than he imagined ; that 
science has not spoken the last word on religion ; 
and that certain facts and ideas had perhaps 
escaped his plausible philosophy. He makes the 
discovery that the higher criticism is not always 
infallible, and that disbelief is sometimes qntite 
as intolerant as belief ; that freethinkers are not 
always free. In fact, he grows up. 

But in the case of the Russian half-educated* 
they do not, as a rule, grow up intellectually. 
They reach the stage of rebellious and destruc- 
tive denial, and remain there. Fragments of 


Nietzsche, Marx, and Schopenhauer contribute 
to the intellectual salad which constitutes their 
negative creed; and once that creed is formed, 
it no longer develops because in the atmosphere 
in which the half-educated live in in Russia they 
will meet with nothing to counterbalance this 
negative influence. The} 7 regard this negative 
philosophy as a thing which is taken for granted 
by all sensible and educated men, a thing about 
which there can be no possible doubt. Atheism 
is a matter of course, like a pair of trousers. 
There can be no other possible creed for an 
educated man. If a man is not an atheist he is 
not educated. Intellectually he wears his shirt 
outside his belt, and not tucked in. Socialism or 
Anarchism is the only possible political creed. 
If a man is not a Socialist or an Anarchist, he 
is obviously a member of the " black-gang " of 
reaction. Any educated man who goes to church 
or is religious is, in the eyes of the half-educated, 
a member of the black-gang a fanatic, an anti- 
Semite, an obscurantist. 

He will remain stationary in this negative 
view, because this view is in the air he breathes 
and amongst the people with whom he consorts. 


He will never come across the contrary view ; and 
he will consequently take for granted that all 
views to the contrary, all religious belief, all dis- 
belief in disbelief, are confined to the uneducated, 
and that as soon as the uneducated (the peasants) 
receive the " light," they will free themselves 
from these old-fashioned and cumbrous shackles 
of superstition. He will be, moreover, immensely 
proud of his negative creed, which he will regard 
as the hall-mark of culture and the password 
which admits him to the intellectual parlia- 
ment of man, the enlightened federation of the 

Mr. Belloc, in one of his essays, I think, tells 
the story of an educated man who lived alone 
and isolated in a village in the Vosges, far re- 
moved from towns, railways, and means of com- 
munication. Thither Mr. Belloc wandered one 
day, and this man, who entertained him., un- 
packed with pride the baggage of portable 
atheism which was current in the 'fifties. 
Mr. Belloc told him atheism was no longer 
thought to be an indispensable hall-mark of 
education, and no longer regarded as the key 
to all philosophies. He was distressed and be- 


wildered. That is exactly what the half-educated 
in Russia are now being told by many Russian 
writers Berdayev, Bulgakov, Em, Rachinsky, 
Florensky, Kozhevnikov, Samarin, Mansurov; 
but the news has not yet penetrated into their 
inner consciousness. 

It had already been proclaimed by greater men 
than these by Dostoievsky, Tyutehev, and Solo- 
viev ; but the message of these men of genius 
has not reached the hearts of the half-educated 
in Russia. They are still in the stage of the 
Oxford undergraduate who reads the Gospel as 
an " ordinary book." 

But let us leave the half-educated and go back 
to the fully-educated. It is, perhaps, needless to 
say that Russia is rich in men of European repu- 
tation who have rendered noble service to science 
in many branches, and especially in medicine. 
What is perhaps less well known to English 
readers is that in the medical profession in 
Russia not only will you find many names 
which enjoy a European reputation, but the 
standard of competence, knowledge, and ability 
is almost universally high. All over Russia, 
no matter how remote the place, you will be 


sure to find a general practitioner who is not 
only highly competent, but highly cultivated. 
Moreover, these doctors live the hardest and 
most self-sacrificing of lives : they drive long 
distances in all weathers ; they have to struggle 
against the enormous odds imposed on them 
by the rigorous climate, the poverty and the 
backwardness of the great mass of the people; 
and often they have to deal with scourges, such 
as epidemics of typhus, cholera, and even 

Socially, the average member of the Russian 
middle class is attractive, expansive, and easy 
to get on with. He is completely devoid of 
hypocrisy, and untainted by snobbishness and 
pretension. He is friendly, good-humoured, and 
hospitable, and, when not afflicted by hypo- 
chondria, a cheerful companion. He is fond of 
discussion. An Englishman living with a Russian 
family is struck, as a rule, by the long conver- 
sations that go on, sometimes far on in the night, 
generally about politics or abstract questions. 
There is no conventional limit of hours. If these 
people want to go on playing cards all night, they 
will go on playing cards all night ; they will not 


stop because they think u it is really time to go 
to bed. 55 * 

In thinking over the characteristics of the 
educated middle class in Russia and the educated 
middle class in England, the chief differences are, 
of course, the same that differentiate the natural 
character of the Russian and the Englishman. 
The Russian middle class is, if you take the 
average, not only better educated, but more 
broad-minded, less provincial, less pretentious, 
far less reserved and less self-satisfied, and not 
at all hypocritical. It is also, I should say, 
less self-disciplined; and it has often struck me 
that those members of the intelligentsia who 
are most violent and bitter in their denunciation 
of the arbitrary behaviour and the irresponsible 
despotism of the Government are, if one sees 
them on a committee, far more despotic and 
arbitrary than the most despotic official. But 
that is perhaps the logical law of human 

The average Russian is certainly less self- 
satisfied than the average Englishman ; although 
he is sometimes self-satisfied in some respects 
and in a quite different fashion. 


Self-praise is not a thing you often come across 
in the Russian intelligentsia. On the contrary, 
you far oftener have its members comparing 
themselves unfavourably with their neighbours, 
But this note of self-depreciation sometimes 
exists side by side with one of pride and vanity, 
which is sometimes pardonable and sometimes 
not. I came across an instance of this lately in 
a large Russian newspaper the Russkoe Slovo.* 

A writer in an article on English life and Eng- 
lishmen, in which he makes a number of inter- 
esting appreciations and criticisms, compares tte 
two countries, and after making the debatable 
statement that, in his opinion, Russia and Eng- 
land are the only two countries which are now 
playing a significant part in the historical arena, 
says, " Yet what a gulf there is between us. 
How far more intelligent, how far more talented, 
how far broader-minded, how far more sincere 
are we ! " It is difficult for either a Russian 
or an Englishman to settle such a question. 
They are neither of them the best judges; 
yet I should say, personally, that this writer is 

* Russkoe Slovo : " At the Music Hall : G. Bayan," September 
14 (27}, 1913. 


probably right, if you take the average. On 
the other hand, my impression is and it 
may very likely be a false one that this 
broad-mindedness, talent, cleverness, and sin- 
cerity is spread in a certain even proportion 
more or less equally and uniformly over a larger 
social stratum in Russia, producing a certain 
high level and standard of general intelligence ; 
whereas in England, where no such high standard 
exists, you may encounter gulfs and precipices 
of complacent ignorance and narrow-minded 
stupidity ; but, on the other hand, you will meet 
with high peaks and jagged rocks of originality, 
imagination, and sometimes genius. In Eng- 
land, while the general standard of intelligence 
is immeasurably lower, the exceptions are more 
remarkable, and not merely because they are ex- 
ceptions, but in themselves. Contemporary liter- 
ature affords a good example of what I mean. 
In Russia, the average reading public and the 
novel-reading public is on a much higher level 
than the average English-reading and novel- 
reading public, and the average literature food 
supplied to it is higher also : the average Russian 
jiovel or story never descends to the level o{ 


silliness which you find in the great majority of 
English magazines. On the other hand, contem- 
porary English literature contains more names 
that are famous, and whose fame has crossed the 
frontiers of their country, than contemporary 
Russian literature. For instance, if we put 
Gorky with Kipling as belonging to a past genera- 
tion, there is in Russia no imaginative writer of 
the present generation who can be compared with 
H. G. Wells ; no realistic novel as fine as Arnold 
Bennett's Old Wives' Tale ; no writer as original 
as G. K. Chesterton. 

The Russian stage is on a far higher intellectual 
level than the English stage, and the Russian 
theatre-going public is incomparably more in- 
telligent than the English theatre-going public ; 
yet the Russians have no dramatist whose plays 
(with the exception of one play by Gorky) are 
acted all over Europe, such as those of Bernard 
Shaw. The ordinary Russian intellectual may 
despise Bernard Shaw's philosophy and drama 
in fact, the writer of the article I have just quoted 
cites as an instance of the low level of the English 
stage, the fact that Bernard Shaw who, he says, 
is " a back number " in Russia, is considered the 


first of English dramatists. But is it certain the 
Russian has realized Shaw's humour to the full ? 
This, moreover, does not prevent it being 
true that Bernard Shaw's plays are acted all 
over Europe, as well as in Russia ; that the French 
have called hrm the modern Molifere; and that 
contemporary Russia has produced no dramatist 
who can claim so large a public, nor so wide an 
appreciation in Europe. 

The writer of the article I have quoted says 
that the Russians and the English are alike in 
possessing two faces. In generalizing on the 
characteristics of a people, and especially the 
Russian and the English people, one must always 
bear in mind the element of paradox and con- 
tradiction that exists. With regard to the Eng- 
lish people, this writer notes the fact of the con- 
trasts you meet with in England, and the dual 
nature of the English character; but whereas 
he notes the naivete of the English public, its 
boisterous mirth in contrast to the serious element 
in many phases of English life, the imaginative 
quality of the English seems to have escaped him. 
" I think we are an imaginative people," writes 
Mr. Wells about the English in India, " with an 


imagination at once gigantic, heroic, and shy; 
and also we are a strangely restrained and disci- 
plined people who are yet neither subdued nor 
subordinated. . . . These are flat contradictions 
to state, and yet how else can one render the para- 
dox of the English character and the spectacle of a 
handful of mute, snobbish, not obviously clever, 
and quite obviously ill-educated men, holding 
together kingdoms, tongues, and races, three 
hundred millions of them, in a restless, fer- 
menting peace ? " 

" Yes, it is true," I would answer to this Rus- 
sian journalist; " probably true that you are far 
more intelligent, far more talented, more broad- 
minded, and less hypocritical than we are." 
And then I would ask him to read some further 
words of Mr. Wells, which concern circles of the 
official English in India, " conventional, carefully 
* turned out ' people, living gawkily, thinking 
gawkily, talking nothing but sport and gossip, 
relaxing at rare intervals into sentimentality and 
levity as mean as a banjo tune." Among such, 
he says, "a kind of despairful disgust would 
engulf me. And then, in some man's work, in 
some huge irrigation scheme, some feat of stra- 


tegic foresight, some simple, penetrating realiza- 
tion of deep-lying things, I would find an effect, 
as if out of a thickly-rusted sheath one had 
pulled a sword and found it a flame." 

The Russian writer has forgotten, or has never 
come across, the flame ; and that is not surprising, 
for the flame is not obvious to the casual observer. 
But the Russian character has felt its heat, 
expressed as it is in the phases and images of 
English writers of genius in the present as well 
as in the past. The flame has left its marks on 
Russian literature. 

I can imagine a Russian brooding or reason- 
ing over Russia say the Russia of the remoter 
provinces much in the same way as Wells 
reasons over the British in India. I can 
imagine him saying: "Again and again I 
would find myself in little circles of minor 
official Russians, slovenly, superficial, despotic 
in their disregard of other people, lax, casual, 
cynical, carefully c educated ' people, living noisily, 
thinking noisily, talking nothing but cheap phi- 
losophy and gossip, relaxing at frequent intervals 
into fits of drunkenness, gambling, and extra- 
vagance, as sordid as the tune of a barrel organ, 


and a kind of despairful disgust would engulf 
And then in some man's speech, in some sudden 
flash of white-hot sincerity, some stripping naked 
of the soul, some gesture of human charity, some 
evidence of sympathy and understanding, some 
simple, penetrating realization of divine things, I 
would find an effect, as if in a heap of moulder- 
ing refuse, festering weeds, and broken bottles 
I had stumbled across a tin box, and forcing it 
open, found it filled with precious balm and myrrh 
celestial in its fragrance." And then perhaps 
he might have added : " I think we are a great- 
hearted people with a humanity at once chari- 
table, broad, and deep ; and yet we are a tough, 
obstinate, arbitrary, and undisciplined people, 
who are as yet neither socially independent nor 
politically free. These are flat contradictions." 
I am certain of one thing. Any generalizations 
on the characteristics of any people must include 
flat contradictions, and especially any generaliza- 
tions on the Russians of any class ; for the 
whole of Russian history is based like a fairy tale 
on a huge paradox namely, the survival of the 
weakest, and the triumph of the fool of the 
family; the strength of the fool being that he 


has something divine in his folly which outwits 
the wisdom of the wise. 

In speaking of the prevailing dead level of a 

high standard in things intellectual in Russia, I 

gave literature as an example. Perhaps I ought 

to cite some of the sister arts as exceptions ; but 

with the exception of music, perhaps, the same 

rule applies here too. In the decorative arts 

Bakst has attained a European reputation, and 

in stage design and stage decoration Russia stands 

perhaps higher than any other European country 

at present. But here it should be noted that 

one of the great pioneers in advanced stage 

decoration in Russia was Gordon Craig, also a 

case in point of the startling exception, startling 

in himself as well as an exception to the encircling 

mediocrity. The Russian stage has felt not only 

his influence, but his direct inspiration ; and 

Aubrey Beardsley is responsible in Russia for a 

whole chaos of decadent illustrators* Then there 

is music, in which Russia is collectively and 

individually far superior to England at present. 

These are questions which need separate and 

more detailed treatment ; but it is worth while 

mentioning here that the greatest exception to 


the rule if it is a rule that in Russia you will 
find a high standard and few towering excep- 
tions, is to be found in the operatic stage in the 
person of Shalyapin, who by common consent 
is, besides being a magnificent singer, the greatest 
living actor and artist on the operatic stage, and 
perhaps on any other stage either. On the other 
hand, the first theatre in Moscow, the Art Theatre, 
furnishes an example of the original rule 
nowhere in Europe is the ensemble so perfect, 
the troupe so well disciplined, the production so 
harmonious ; yet the company contains no single 
actor or actress of genius. 

It is, of course, the intelligentsia who suffered 
most in the past, since the epoch of the great 
reforms of the 'sixties, from the want of political 
liberty in Russia, and it is from the ranks of the 
intelligentsia that the revolutionary movement 
started. They had, until the creation of the 
first Duma, no means at all of taking p'art in 
public life unless they became officials and en- 
tered the Government service. 

Those who did not play an active part in poli- 
tics were not, it is true, or were only indirectly, 
hampered by this state of things. They were 


hampered, that is to say, by the censorship 
on certain books and on certain ideas, by the 
caution of the press and the absence of public 
debate, by the liability of falling under the 
suspicion of political heterodoxy ; whereas those 
who took a part in the revolutionary movement, 
either directly or indirectly, were liable at any mo- 
ment to suffer in person for their opinions, and 
they did suffer. In their action as active revolu- 
tionaries, in the manner in which they were 
ready to undergo any sacrifices, however 
great and however tedious, the Russian revolu- 
tionaries belong to the great and authentic 
martyrs of the world. They sacrificed them- 
selves without any fuss or ostentation. They 
were willing to endure years and years of im- 
prisonment or exile if they thought that would 
benefit their cause. They went on hunger- 
strike when the rules of their imprisonment 
were not being properly carried out, if the 
quality of the food supplied to them was not 
up to the standard, or if the prison regulations 
were not being properly fulfilled ; but not because 
they were put in prison. That they accepted 
as a rule of the game. Nothing broke their 


indomitable and patient purpose. They were 
ready to abandon everything which makes life 
worth living, and they claimed neither the hero's 
laurel wreath nor the martyr's crown. They were 
content to be anonymous ; they gladly gave 
their bodies to be crushed, if, they thought, 
they could thus make stepping-stones over which 
future generations could walk. The Russian 
revolutionaries did not go out of their way to 
seek to lose their lives; but they were ready, 
if the occasion demanded it, to give their lives. 
But as far as their main policy was concerned, 
they took the offensive against the Government ; 
and not being allowed to express their opinions 
in print or in public, they expressed them with 

In looking back at the whole movement, one 
is struck by the absence of cant in the 
methods, the writings, and the behaviour of 
the active revolutionaries. They were as simple 
and as natural in their assassinations and their 
martyrdom as they were in the rest of their 
behaviour. They showed the same absence of 
hypocrisy. Some people call this the Russian 
simplicity; others call it (Mr. Conrad, for in- 


stance) Russian cynicism. It is, if you like, a 
kind of inverted cynicism; a reckless way of 
looking facts in the face, and of stripping the soul 
of all its decent trappings. And yet there is 
nothing Mephistophelian about it no mockery, 
no irony, but an inverted and inflexible logic 
which leads people to disregard all barriers and 
to carry out in practice what they preach in 
theory, though they should cause the pillars of 
the world to fall crashing to the ground. 

I have been speaking, of course, about the active 
and militant members among the revolutionaries, 
not of its platonic and passive sympathizers. 
Amongst those you may find the political cant 
which is common to that species of mankind, of 
all races and in all countries. 

But if you take the Russian middle class as a 
whole, absence of cant and hypocrisy is certainly 
one of their chief characteristics. Uniformity of 
education is certainly another. " Culture " is 
made into a fetish (and this is true of all edu- 
cated people in Russia). A certain stereotyped 
form of culture, including a certain number of 
subjects, is looked upon as being as indispens- 
able as clothes. A man who is lacking in the 


visible label and hall-mark of this so-called 
" culture " is looked upon as if he were morally 

The worst of it is, the possession of this culture 
does not necessarily mean that its possessor is 
cultivated. It is often skin-deep and a random 
assortment of superficial ideas, confined some- 
times to the knowledge of certain names and 
catchwords, and to a second-hand acquaintance 
with certain books, theories, and currents of 

The idea that this kind of " culture " is indis- 
pensable, and that a man who does not possess 
it is uneducated, is undoubtedly a bureaucratic 
idea, and the fruits of the long-standing exist- 
ence of bureaucracy. Such culture is a super- 
stition, and has nothing necessarily to do with 
real culture, which implies the assimilation and 
the thorough digestion of any kind of knowledge. 

But, as I have said before, it is more especially 
to the half -educated that this applies. The truly 
well-educated middle class have revealed their 
culture to the world in the shape of the men of 
science, the historians, the economists they have 
produced, and the books they have written. 


But the Russian intellectual middle class is 
historically still young. The greatest works of the 
Russian genius in the past were written before it 
existed, when they were as nothing, and came 
from the nohility. The future will show what 
the intelligentsia in their turn will produce. 
But such as it is at the present moment, it 
offers to the student of Russia a field of sur- 
passing interest; and the Englishman who 
goes to Russia and lives among its members 
will come back, as a rule, with the horizon of his 
mind widened, and in his heart a soft spot fo 
the Russian intelligentsia. 



Russian Church, calls itself the Holy 
Catholic Apostolic and Orthodox Church. 
It is a national Church, and at the same time it is 
a branch of a great Christian community which 
includes many nations and peoples namely, the 
Eastern Orthodox Church. 

The Russian Orthodox Church numbers at 
present over a hundred million adherents, eighty 
millions of which are Russian subjects ; of the 
remainder about half are Slavs of old Turkey or 
of Austro-Hungary. Greeks, Roumanians, Bul- 
garians, and Serbs all belong to the Orthodox 
Church, and the Orthodox Church has missions 
in China, Japan, and North America. 

Until the eleventh century the Eastern and 
the Western Churches formed one Church. In 
the eleventh century a schism broke this unity 


and divided a large fragment of the Eastern 
Church from the Western Church. 

Even after the schism had taken place, even 
as late as the beginning of the twelfth cen- 
tury, intercommunion existed between the two 
Churches, and Russian princes and princesses 
of Kiev intermarried with members of the Latin 
Church. Efforts were made later to heal the 
schism, the most important of which were the 
second Council of Lyons in 1274 and the Council 
of Florence in 1439. At both these Councils 
union was proclaimed and accepted by the 
Greeks, but neither of them had any permanent 
result. The findings of the first of these two 
Councils soon became a dead letter ; those of 
the second were repudiated as soon as the Greek 
delegates reached home, and the delegates 
were regarded as apostates. Thus the schism 
has lasted practically since 1054. It was fraught 
with deep moral and political consequences for 
the East, and especially for Russia. The cause 
of it was not really doctrinal or dogmatical. 
Points of dogma, and trivial points at that, 
were used as pretexts after the schism had be- 
come a fait accompli. The true cause of tue 


schism was the immemorial rivalry between the 
Greeks and the Latins. 

The schism between the Eastern and Western 
Churches ranks, Sir Charles Eliot says in his 
Turkey and Europe, with the foundation of 
Constantinople and the coronation of Charle- 
magne, as one of the turning-points in the re- 
lations of the East and the West. It was disas- 
trous to Russia and to the Byzantine Empire. 
To the latter, because it crystallized and deepened 
an antagonism which prevented the East and 
West from combining against the common 
enemy, and thus proved one of the main causes 
of the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the 
establishment of the Turk in Europe. To Russia, 
Because, isolated as she was already by her 
geographical situation, by this further isolation 
and rupture with the West she fell an easy prey 
to the hordes of barbarian invaders from Asia, 
and her national development was interrupted 
for centuries. As far as dogma is concerned, the 
differences between the two Churches are to 
this day trivial, and in earlier times they were 
slighter still. The Orthodox Church has the 
same seven Sacraments as the Catholic Church 


namely. Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, 
Penance, Unction, Holy Order, and Matrimony. 
There is a certain difference in the adminis- 
tration of the Sacraments. The Orthodox baptize 
with a threefold immersion. Confirmation is 
administered immediately after baptism; and 
this was so in the West during all the thirteenth 
century. Auricular confession is regarded as 
indispensable by the Orthodox, but the Sacrament 
of Penance is less precise and more flexible than 
in the West. The Orthodox Church holds the 
dogma of Transubstantiation. That is to say, the 
Orthodox believe that the Holy Eucharist is the 
true body and blood of Jesus Christ under the 
outward appearances of bread and wine, and 
that transubstantiation takes place namely, the 
change of the inward imperceptible substance 
into another substance ; while all the species and 
accidents that is to say, those qualities which 
are outwardly perceived by the senses, such as 
colour, taste or shape remain unchangec^ They 
reject all explanation of a typical or subjective 
presence. Holy Communion is given in both 
kinds to the laity ; the Sacrament is administered 
by means of a golden spoon, in which particles of 


the bread of the Eucharist float in the con- 
secrated wine. Infants receive Holy Communion 
after baptism. The Sacrament of Extreme 
Unction, called by the Russians Soborovanie 
(that is to say. Unction without the extreme), 
is administered by several priests, and is not 
reserved for those in extremis ; it is regarded 
less as a preparation for death than as a means 
of healing the sick. 

J^With regard to Holy Order, no priest in 
Russia is allowed to marry after he is ordained. 
He is married before he is ordained, and marriage 
has become a necessary preliminary to Order. 

The Orthodox Church proclaims the indissolu- 
bility of marriage, but in practice admits that 
the infidelity of one of the parties authorizes 
separation. Violation of the conjugal oath is 
regarded as annulling the sacrament, and only 
the injured party is allowed to remarry, np""" 

The Orthodox have the same fundamental 
cycle of feasts as the Catholics. The Holy 
Liturgy is said according to two rites those of 
St. John Chrysostom and of St. Basil.* 

The Orthodox observe four great iasxs: 

* There is also in Lent the Mass of the Presanotified. 


Advent, forty days from November 15 until 
Christmas Eve ; Lent, beginning on the Monday 
after the sixth Sunday before Easter ; thirdly, 
a period from the first Sunday after Pentecost 
until June 28 ; fourthly, the fast of the Mother 
of God from August 1 to August 15. According 
to the Orthodox fast, only one meal is allowed 
a day, and abstinence not only from meat, 
but from fish, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, and oil 
is required. The fasts are carried out by the 
poor with great strictness, and even among the 
wealthier classes there is more fasting and absti- 
nence during Lent than in the West, f Statues of 
our Lord or of saints are forbidden, buFpictures 
and any images on a flat surface are allowed) 

To sum up, the foundations of the Orthodox 
faith are : Belief in one God in three Persons, 
in the Incarnation of God the Son, the Redemp- 
tion of Mankind by the sacrifice of His Life, the 
Church founded by Him with her Sacraments, 
the Resurrection of the Body, the life Ever- 
lasting. They have a hierarchy; they accept 
the Deutero-canonical books of Scripture as 
equal to the others ; they believe in and use 
seven sacraments ; they honour, invoke, and 


pray to saints ; they have a cult of holy 
pictures and relics ; they look with infinite 
reverence to the Mother of God. 

In all these main points, which I have here 
enumerated, there is no difference between the 
Orthodox Church of the East and the Catholic 
Church of the West. The two Churches origi- 
nally separated on minor questions of discipline ; 
they are at present separated by certain questions 
of dogma as well. But the great difference 
between the two Churches is the difference of 
constitution., which proceeds from the very fact 
of the separation. The first difference in dogma 
between the two Churches is the procession of 
the Holy Ghost. The Eastern Church refuses 
to add the word filiogue to the Nicean Creed. 
Rut even here, although the Orthodox do not 
admit that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the 
Son as well as from the Father, they have never 
explicitly stated a contrary belief ; and although 
they deny that the twofold procession can be 
inserted in the Creed, they grant it allows of an 
orthodox interpretation. This is a purely theo- 1 
logical dispute, and to this day it remains the 
chief point of difference between the two Churches. 


The two Churches differ in their conception of 
purgatory ; the Orthodox pray for the dead, 
and believe in a middle state, where the dead 
sleep and wait passively ; XJbut they do not 
define the matter any further, and they reject 
all idea of the purification by spiritual fire. They 
deny that souls which have departed this life 
can expiate their faults, or at least the only 
expiation they admit are the prayers of the faith- 
ful and the Holy Mysteries. 

The Orthodox deny the dogma of the Im- 
maculate Conception. The Catholic dogma of 
the Immaculate Conception is that all mankind 
are from their conception tainted with Original 
Sin, except the Blessed Virgin, who by a special 
privilege and grace of God was preserved im- 
maculate that is, free from the stain of Original 
Sin from the first moment of her conception. 

I repeat this definition because it is not gener- 
ally known to Protestant Englishmen, who, as 
a rule, confuse the Immaculate Conception with 
the Incarnation of our Lord, and I know 
of cases where they obstinately maintain this 
belief in the face of evidence. 

The doctrine, although not accepted in theory 


by the Eastern Church, is practically a part of 
their belief that is to say, they never cease to 
call the Blessed Virgin All Immaculate, or 
Very Immaculate. 

Finally, the Orthodox Church deny the dogma 
of Papal Infallibility. This is in reality the only 
difference between the two Churches which has 
any real importance, either religious or political, 
because it includes any other possible difference, 
and from it proceeds the difference in constitu- 
tion and in political situation between the two 

For Catholics the door on dogmatic definition 
has been left open indefinitely ; for while holding, 
de fide, that the revelation made to the apostles 
was final and complete, new definition of the 
revelation, as is seen in the creeds, as heresies 
arise, or as fuller expansion of doctrine, is ad- 
mitted indefinitely. 

On the other hand, the Orthodox believe that 
the time for definition has been closed, once and 
for all, and for ever. They believe that nothing 
can be added to the decisions of the first Seven 
Great Councils, which took place before the 
schism between the two Churches, and which 


contained, according to them, the infallible, 
final, complete, and unalterable definition of the 
Church and the dogmas of the faith. The Ortho- 
dox regard the first Seven Councils to have been 
infallible in the definition of dogma, exactly in 
the same way as Catholics consider the Pope 
to be infallible in his capacity of supreme Pastor 
of the Church, when speaking ex cathedra he 
defines revealed truth and teaches points of faith 
or of morals. The Orthodox deny that the Pope 
has authority over the whole Church. The 
Russian and the Greek catechisms agree that 
the Church has no other head than Jesus Christ, 
our Lord so far this agrees with the Catholic 
catechism and that He is represented by no vicar 
on earth. The Orthodox regard the Pope as 
the Patriarch of the West, and legitimate first 
Patriarch (primus inter pares), but they reject 
his universal claim* 

And as the first Seven Councils left some 
matters undefined and the Fathers of the Church 
did not foresee all possible contingencies, such 
matters remain undefined in the Orthodox 

Since the Orthodox Church possesses neither 



a spiritual sovereign nor an international capital, 
such as Rome, it naturally tends to decentraliz- 
ation, and hence the growth of national and 
independent Churches, which the Greeks call 

The Russian Church was. the first to establish 
its independence, and the example of Russia was 
followed by Greece, Servia, and Roumania. 

In 1872 Bulgaria, in obedience to its national 
interests, seceded from the jurisdiction of the 
Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, in order 
to be no longer classed with the Greeks ; for, 
according to the Turkish system, all those who 
submitted to the jurisdiction of Constantinople 
were officially classed as " Greeks. 35 

Thus the Bulgarians formed an autonomous 
Church in the domains of the Ottoman Empire, 
alongside of the Greek Church, before Bulgaria 
constituted a State, and for so doing they incurred 
the anathema of the Orthodox Patriarchate of 
Constantinople, and were condemned as hereti- 
cal, since the patriarchate maintained that the 
delimitation of ecclesiastical jurisdiction should 
correspond to political delimitation, and that in 
the same political state there could only be one 


Chureiu, Bulgaria's action, therefore, was con- 
trary*^ church canon that is, heretical. Never- 
theless its independence was recognized by the 
Sultan, and the Bulgarian Church was estab- 
lished under an Exarch of its own, while Russia, 
without making any definite pronouncement, 
nevertheless never accepted the anathema of 

A few years later Bulgaria became an inde- 
pendent principality, and had the jurisdiction of 
the Bulgarian Exarchate been limited to the prin- 
cipality of Bulgaria, the (Ecumenical Patriarchate 
would have been logically bound to recognize it ; 
but according to the finnans of the Sultan, the 
jurisdiction of the Bulgarian Exarchate extended 
beyond the frontiers of Bulgaria, and included the 
dioceses of Thrace and Macedonia, which nomi- 
nally belonged to the Sultan and were a bone of 
contention between the Greek and the Slav 
influence. Thus the Grseco-Bulgarian schism 
continued. This question has now once again 
sprung into importance. The dioceses of Mace- 
donia and some of those in Thrace, which were 
under the religious jurisdiction of Bulgaria, and 
under the political dominion of the Porte, are 


now, as the result of the latest wars in the Balkans, 
and of the Treaty of Bucharest, partly in the 
hands of the Servians, and partly in the hands of 
the Greeks. Hitherto the Bulgarian Exarchate 
was the nucleus around which all the elements 
of Bulgarian nationality in Macedonia were 
gathered ; but now, owing to the second Balkan 
War, the Bulgarians in Macedonia come under 
the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Servia, 
and are in fear, consequently, of losing their 
nationality, since the Bulgars fear that neither 
their churches nor their national schools will 
succeed in maintaining their existence in the 
new Greek and Servian territory. The conse- 
quence was, that some of the Bulgars in those 
parts of Macedonia talked of secession from the 
Orthodox Church, and submission to the Church 
of Rome, or of embracing Protestantism, as the 
best means of preserving their nationality.* 

In spite of these differences, the Russian Church 
and the independent Churches of the East form 
in reality one, for if they lack unity of organ- 
ization, they possess unity of creed, and the unity 
of creed is ensured by its immutabilty, which 

*It is very improbable that anything of the kind mil occur. 


renders unnecessary all international authority 
or periodical congresses. Since matters of dogma 
have been discussed once and for all, or have 
been left vague and undefined indefinitely, there 
is nothing for such an authority to define, and 
nothing for such a congress to discuss. And the 
panegyrists of the Orthodox Church are proud 
of the lack of central authority and the organiz- 
ation of the Churches according to States, which 
they consider combine unity of creed with 
ecclesiastical independence, according to Homa- 
yakov's formula, " Unity of freedom in love." 

But if the nationalization of the Oriental 
Churches is a source of strength, it is at the 
same time a source of weakness, for the result 
of the national constitution of the Orthodox 
Churches, and of their having no spiritual head, 
has been that many of its branches have been 
secularized, and of this the Russian Church is 
a signal example. 

The Orthodox Churches, and especially the 
Russian Church, were thrown open to the civil 
power, the power of the State, and became sub- 
ordinate to it. 

The Russian Church became subject to the 


State. It is often said that such a circumstance 
is a guarantee^of political liberty and of liberty 
of thought; but neither the history of Russia 
nor that of the Greek empire furnishes us with 
examples to the point. Both in the history of 
Russia and of Byzantium we are confronted with 
two phenomena intellectual stagnation and 
political despotism to which the Church seems 
to have contributed, since being subject to the 
State she had no means of resisting civil author- 
ity, and the power of the State was left without 
a single check. The civil authority had the sup- 
port of ecclesiastic authority, and the temporal 
authority was backed up by the spiritual power ; 
no obstacle was raised in the path of autocracy. 
The alliance of Church and State kept down 
the intellectual growth of the nation within, 
and prevented the invasion of new ideas from 
without. The result of the alliance was stag- 
nation and isolation. And in the East there 
was no common clerical language, as Latin in 
the West, to help civilization, for the Greek 
Church did not impose its language on its sister 
Churches, but left to each the use of its own 


This peculiar constitution of the Russian 
Church, as Sir Charles Eliot puts it, " has pro- 
duced in Russia an almost Mohammedan con- 
fusion of Church and State, or at least of religion 
and politics. 55 

But this state of things did not come about 
all at once. 

Christianity reached Russia through Byzan- 
tium at a time (988 A.D.) when the Eastern 
Church was still in communion with Rome, after 
a temporary schism between the East and 
West ; a Russian Metropolitan held the see of 
Kiev, and was appointed by the Patriarch of 
Constantinople. During this period the Russian 
Church was a province of the Byzantine Patri- 

Then came the Tartar invasion and the migra- 
tion of the Russian princes to the basin of the 
Volga, ^iid finally to Moscow. Moscow had a 
Metropolitan who was still suffragan of the 
Greek patriarch, but elected by his clergy and 
chosen by Ms sovereign. This was the second 
phase of {the Russian Church during which it 
gradually ! acquired its independence. Moscow 
became at kingdom, and at the death of Ivan 


the Terrible, in 1589, Russia demanded a Patri- 
arch, In 1589 Job, the Metropolitan of Moscow, 
was consecrated Patriarch. This was brought 
about by Boris Godunov, in the reign of Feodor, 
the successor of Ivan the Terrible (1589). 

Thus began the third phase of the history of the 
Russian Church the phase of its independence. 
The Russian Church was henceforward inde- 
pendent of Constantinople. 

There were ten Patriarchs of Moscow in suc- 
cession. At first they played a powerful and 
important part in Russian history, and helped 
to save Russia from foreign dominion. 

The culminating point in the history of the 
independent Church was reached when in the 
reign of Alexis, in 1642, Nikon became Patriarch. 

The Partriarchate of Nikon had two great 
and far-reaching results firstly, a conflict with 
the civil authority which ended in hip- defeat 
and deposition from the patriarchal) throne, 
and in a consequent loss of prestige to the 
patriarchate ; and secondly, a schisih which 
tore the Russian Church in two, and which was 
the result of a wise reform the revision of the 
text of liturgical books, into whose tefxt, owing 


to continuous copying and recopying, inaccu- 
racies had crept. 

Nikon spoke with great energy against the 

supremacy of the State over the Church. Six 

years after his consecration, he was brought 

before a Council, condemned and deposed, thanks 

to the intrigues of the Boyars. His revision of 

the texts was accepted by the Council, but not 

by a great part of the Russian people, who clung 

obstinately to the old unrevised books and 

called themselves " Old Believers." Hence 

arose the great schism of the Russian Church* 

The " Old Believers," were persecuted and 

became fanatical. Besides the revision of the 

texts, Nikon changed one or two trifling details 

of ritual in the liturgy. This was enough to 

convulse Russia. Later on, all enemies of foreign 

innovations flocked to the camp of the " Old 

Believers," endured any persecution, however 

severe ; and the net result of this, at the present 

moment, is that there are 25,000,000 Russians 

who live in schism from the Russian Church. 

The fall of Nikon established once and for all the 
authority of the State over that of the Church, 

and the great schism weakened the authority of 



the Church., owing to the secession from it 
of a great part of the nation. The patriarchate 
was shaken and weakened ; but weak as it was, 
it appeared too strong to suit the taste of Peter 
the Great, who abolished it in 1721. 

In its place he established the Holy Directing 
Synod. Thus began the fourth phase of the 
Russian Church, which has lasted until to- 

There is nothing necessarily anti-liberal in 
the existence of a synod, and it is not peculiar 
to the Russian Church. Greece, Roumania, 
and Servia administer their Churches by means 
of a synod. Its tendencies depend necessarily 
on the manner of its election, the nature of its 
guarantees, the laws and customs of the country 
in which it exists. 

The Holy Synod consists at the present day 
of executive members and assistants, of per- 
manent and temporary members. Among the 
permanent members are the Metropolitans of 
Kiev, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, and the 
Exarch of Georgia. The temporary members 
consist of four or five archbishops, bishops or 
archimandrites, the emperor's chaplain, and the 


head chaplain of the forces. All the members 
are appointed by the Emperor, and in addition 
to these ecclesiastics, the Emperor appoints a 
delegate who is called the Procurator-General. 
The procurator is a layman, and represents the 
civil authority* His duty is to see that ecclesi- 
astical affairs are carried out in accordance with 
the imperial ukases. No act of the synod is 
valid unless he confirms it. He has the right 
of veto, should its decisions be contrary to the 
law. Practically, therefore* but not theoretically, 
he controls the synod : and in bis turn he carries 
out the will and obeys the orders of the Emperor. 
It would be a great mistake, however, what- 
ever may be the result of this institution in prac- 
tice, to call the Emperor of Russia the head of 
the Russian Church. He makes no such claim, 
and Russian orthodoxy recognizes only one 
Head of the Church, our Lord, and only one 
infallible authority speaking in His name, the 
Seven First (Ecumenical Councils. The Em- 
peror may be the autocratic master of the 
Church ; he is not the head of it. His authority 
is from the outside only. In questions of dogma 
he has no authority at all. He is regarded as 


the temporal defender and guardian of the 
Church ; his authority, and consequently the au- 
thority of the State, concerns the administration 
of the Church solely, and even here his power 
is limited by tradition, canon law, and the 
oecumenical character of the Church. 

Dogma is equally outside the domain of the 
Holy Synod, and even disciplinary measures 
come before the Holy Synod as before a com- 
mission of inquiry, the final decision remaining 
with the Church. 

Such is the teaching of the Russian Church 
with regard to relations of Church and State, 
and the position of the Emperor with regard to 
the Church. 

Yet in spite of this, there is no Church where 
the influence and the authority of the State is 
so deeply felt as in the Russian Church ; for in 
practice the Church is governed through the 
Holy Synod, and not through the bishops, for the 
synod overrules the bishops, and in practice, 
and in spite of the theory, the procurator over- 
rules the synod, and the procurator is the civil 
authority in the flesh. The Russian Church is 
consequently, in practice, a State Church, and 


many of its earnest members have never ceased 
to deplore the fact. 

Russian books dealing with theological ques- 
tions in the past are full of this bitter and oft- 
reiterated complaint ; but I will quote what 
an apologist of the Russian Church wrote as 
short time ago as November 1912, showing that 
the complaint of the past is if anything more 
vital now than ever. In an article on the Rus- 
sian public and religion, S. Bulgakov says that 
a faithful and powerful ally of the atheism 
of the intelligentsia is without doubt the 
secular character of the Church, its ruinous de- 
pendence on the State under the synod regime, 
and owing to the absence of self-government. 
He also says that one of the reasons of the alien- 
ation from the Church, not only of the intelli- 
gentsia but of the people, is the bureaucratic 
caste of the Church administration, the access 
of officialdom and arbitrary power to the fields 
of freedom and love. "It is not," he writes, 
" a question of any corruption or distortion o 
dogma ; on the contrary, the Russian Church 
adheres with devotion to the dogmas of the 
Universal Church. 


"The main lever by which the State directs 
the Church at present is the episcopacy, which, 
contrary to canon, is appointed by, and con- 
sequently to a certain extent picked out by, 
secular authority. The Holy Synod is likewise 
chosen from these bishops, and by secular 
authority also. . . . The bishops, who should 
remain all their life in their dioceses, have been 
commuted into ecclesiastical governors, changing 
dioceses more quickly than the governors change 
provinces. . . . Theoretically, the Orthodox 
Church should be self-governing from top to 
bottom, but the painful reality reveals on the 
contrary so great a paralysis in the public life 
of the Church, as to give the outside observer 
the impression that nothing is here but ecclesi- 
astical governors, under the direction of the 
procurator of the Holy Synod and the secular 
authority that is behind him, with a clergy 
stripped of all rights." 

Such a statement sums up what has been con- 
stantly said in the past, and what is being said 
with increasing vehemence in the present by 
earnest members of the Russian Church, who 
recognize with sorrow the almost total alienation 


of the Church from the educated classes, and look 
forward with apprehension to the day when the 
indifference of the educated and the street- 
corner atheism of the half-educated shall spread 
to the peasantry. But, on the other hand, the 
very fact that such statements are made shows 
that side by side with the growth of rationalism 
there is a movement in the opposite direction 
as well. 

Many years ago, in the days of the fathers and 
grandfathers of the present generation, educated 
Russia was divided into two camps the Slavo- 
phils and the Westernisers. The leaders of the 
Westemism were Bielinsky and Herzen ; those 
of the Slavophils, Homyakov, a poet and the 
father of the Ex-President of the Duma; and 

The Westernisers saw in rationalism and 
atheism the last word of Western culture, and 
made a religion out of socialistic Utopias, and 
at the same time took part with a fervent en- 
thusiasm in the struggle for political freedom. 
Orthodoxy and the Church were to them an 
expression of despotism and reaction. 

The Slavophils, who were, in their most 


flourishing epoch, by no means political reaction- 
aries, and being more cultured than their oppo- 
nents were saturated with the philosophy, art, 
and religion of the West, nevertheless revered the 
religious character of the sovereign's authority, 
based Utopias on it likewise, and, in contra- 
distinction to the cosmopolitan ideal of the 
Westernisers, for whom nationality did not exist 
except ethnographically, made a cult of national- 
ity which for them was inseparable from religion 
and orthodoxy. There was the same difference 
between their ideals as there is now between 
those of Mr. Chesterton and Mr. Blatchford ; 
only whereas in England Mr. Chesterton has 
but few followers, the Slavophils were expressing 
the inarticulate aspirations of the great mass 
of the Russian people. 

Slavophilism was represented by many men 
of genius, such as Dostoievsky the novelist and 
Vladimir Soloviev the philosopher. 

Its tradition has not died out, and although 
the majority of the intelligentsia may be adher- 
ents of the opposite school, yet the descendants 
of the Slavophils have many notable repre- 
sentatives among the minority (whose names I 


have already cited) in philosophy, art, and 
literature ; and a universal characteristic of 
them is their interest in religion. 

The ordinary Russian street-corner atheist 
sees in the Church nothing but an instrument 
of clerical obscurantism and political reaction. 
He looks at the matter from the outside, and, 
from his point of view, the opinion is excusable. 

But the descendants of Slavophilism look at 
the Church from the inside. They know from 
experience the blessing of the Sacraments, the 
majesty of an immemorial tradition, the glory 
of a mystical and liturgical Church whose ritual 
and liturgy is one of inexpressible richness, 
depth, and beauty. Even to the most in- 
different agnostic the Russian Church affords a 
spectacle of surpassing aesthetic interest, and if 
he is musical an incomparable source of wonder 
and delight in the quality of its sacred song. 

As far as ritual and ceremony is concerned, the 
practice and custom of the first centuries of 
Christianity, which were in many cases sim- 
plified by Rome, before they were curtailed or 
rejected by the Reformation, have been pre- 
served intact in the East. Nothing is more false 


than the idea which often prevails in some 
quarters that the rites of the early Church were 
simple, and grew more and more complicated 
towards the Middle Ages. The rites of the Church 
in the fourth and fifth centuries were long and 
complicated, and were gradually simplified by the 
Latins. The proof is the ceremonial of the Eastern 
Churches, which has remained exactly where it 
was in the fourth and fifth centuries. Mass, 
for instance, in the Coptic Church, lasts five 
hours or longer. Low Mass, which was one of 
the simplifications introduced by Rome, is un- 
known in the Greek and Russian Churches. 
Every Mass is a high Mass, intoned and accom- 
panied by plain song, in the presence of the 
faithful, and generally only on Sundays and holy 
days. The same liturgy and rite is observed 
by the TJniate Catholics, whether Greeks, Ru- 
thenians, Poles, etc. The liturgy is sumptuous, 
and at the same time austere. There is only one 
altar, which is separated from the congregation 
by a large screen called the iconastasis that is 
to say, the screen which bears the holy images 
which has doors which are opened and shut during 
Mass, and beyond which the priest alone, and 


the Emperor when tie receives Communion on 
the day oi his coronation, has the right to pene- 
trate. Behind these doors, which are shut 
before the consecration, the most solemn part 
of the Mass is consummated. No organ or any 
other instruments are allowed in the Eastern 
Churches, and, as in the Sixtine Chapel when 
the Pope says Mass, only the human voice is 

As far as liturgical song is concerned, the 
Russians have far surpassed the Greeks, from 
whom they received it. The liturgical music 
consists of plain song, and of original chants 
called raspievi, which date from the Middle 
Ages. The singing of the Church choirs in Russia 
is "without comparison the finest in the world. 
The bass voices reach to notes and attain effects 
resembling t the 36-foot bourdon stops of a huge 
organ, and these, blent with the clear and bold 
treble voices of the boys, sing 

" An undisturbed song of pure concent* " 

The best Russian choirs sing together like one 
voice. They attain to tremendous crescendoes, 
to a huge volume of thunderous sound, and to 


a celestial softness and delicacy of diminishing 
tone. There is no finer chorus singing. The 
Russians are extremely particular and appre- 
ciative of religious music. Every kind of in- 
stitution, including banks, has its private choir; 
and I know of a case where a banker chose his 
clerks simply and solely according to the quality 
of their voices, so as to form a choir who could 
sing in church. 

The finest choirs in Russia are those of the 
Emperor, St. Isaak's Cathedral in St. Peters- 
burg, of the Cathedral of the Assumption, and 
the Church of St. Saviour, and the Tchudov 
Monastery at Moscow ; and the finest religious 
ceremonies are those which take place at Mos- 
cow during Holy Week and on the eve of Easter. 

Religious music in Russia has its roots in the 
heart of the people. And whatever in the future 
may be the influence of rationalistic tendencies 
and materialistic theories, of superficial indifier- 
entisrn or ill-digested science, the Russian people 
at the present moment love their liturgy and the 
ceremony, ritual, and music of their worship. 
The Church still plays an overwhelming part 
in national life. And for the peasant,, the 


Church is not only a place of mystery* sweetness, 
and consolation, but Ms window opens on to all 
that concerns the spirit it is his opera, his 
theatre, his concert, his picture gallery, his 

The Russian people still flock to the shrines 
of the Saints, and walk hundreds of miles on foot 
to visit holy places. A peasant woman once 
asked me to lend her two roubles, as she was 
going on a journey. I asked her where she was 
going to, and she said, " Jerusalem." 

A pilgrim in a Russian crowd is as constant 
a factor as a soldier, a student, or the member 
of any other profession. The churches are still 
crowded in Russia, and they have that attribute 
without which a Church is not a Church they 
smell of the poor. 



T^DUCATION, like everything else in Russia, 
^ has, in the course of its existence, experi- 
enced many starp ups and dovras, which were the 
outcome in the past of the vicissitudes of history, 
and, in less remote times, of clianges in the policy 
of successive governments. 

**""" The birthplace of education in Russia was the 
Church. Until the Tartar invasion, education was 
entirely in the hands of the clergy ; and like 
everything else in Russia, it necessarily suffered 
an eclipse during the epoch of the Tartar domi- 
nation. Peter the Great created secular schools, 
sowed the seed of technical education, which was 
later to bear such abundant fruit, and planned 
an Academy of Sciences which was executed 
by his ^yridow Catherine, 


The University of Moscow was founded in 
1755, in the reign of the Empress Elisabeth. 
Catherine II. encouraged education in many ways; 
but it was not until the reign of Alexander I. 
that an attempt was made to organize a national 
system of education. From that time until the 
present day, education has experienced spurts 
of progress and relapses into stagnation, accord- 
ing as the political pendulum swung from reform 
to reaction. From 1812 to 1855 reaction was 
predominant. In 1855 education, as everything 
else, revived under the influence of the great 
reforms. After the assassination of the Em- 
peror Alexander II., in 1881 ? another period of 
reaction set in, which lasted more or less until 
the Russo-Japanese War; then came the 
revolutionary movement which broke down 
certain barriers, and was succeeded, as fax as 
education is concerned, by a Government pol- 
icy whose constant tendency has been toward 
reaction, and here as elsewhere, and in other 
matters, to take back or to curtail and limit 
with one hand what it had givea with the other. 
But although the Government has constantly 
interfered with and hampered tie organization 


of education, it has not only been powerless to 
withstand the great movement towards the ex- 
tension and progress of education which is at 
this moment taking place in Russia, but it 
has in some cases taken the initiative in 
educational reform, so that if it curtails with 
one hand it has none the less given with the 
other ; and the gift is more important than the 
limitations, because, once made, it opened win- 
dows that could never be shut again in spite of 
all possible curtailments. In Russia at the 
present moment there is a great and ever in- 
creasing demand for primary, secondary, tech- 
nical, and higher education. 

Primary education, which in Russia is always 
gratuitous, is in the hands either of 
(a) The Zemstvos, in the country. 

The Municipalities, in the towns. 
(6) The Church. 

(c) The Minister of Education, to a small 
extent in that part of Russia where 
Zemstvos exist, and a large extent 
in the ukraines where there are no 
The course of primary education is planned on 


a basis of from three to six years. In all primary 
schools, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and 
religion are taught. 

The tendency towards a longer and slower 
course, because a three years' course, while it 
teaches a boy to read once and for all, has been 
found not to leave a lasting impression on him 
as far as writing is concerned. 

The boy after a three years' course will never 
forget how to read, but he will entirely forget 
how to write. 

The primary schools are full to overflowing, 
and have to turn back pupils all over the 

As far as the teachers are concerned, 60 per 
cent, of them are women, 40 per cent, are men. 
Only a small proportion are specially trained 
teachers ; the rest, especially among the women, 
have merely finished their course at a Govern- 
ment Gymnasium. 

Of the three classes of primary schools, the 
best are those which are in the hands of the 
Zemstvo ; then next in order of merit come 
those which are in the hands of the Minister 
of Education; and next the Church parish 


schools,* which are gradually being suspended 
and ousted by the others. 

All these schools were till quite lately (three 
or four years ago) supported either by the respec- 
tive authorities in whose control they are, or by 
private persons. As the sums of money ren- 
dered available by such a system were totally 
insufficient to defray the necessary expenses, the 
consequence was that the general progress was 
slow. A radical change in this situation was 
made by an Education Bill, which was intro- 
duced into the Duma by the Government, and 
passed by the Duma a few years ago. This most 
important measure provided that the various 
authorities indicated above, which control the 
schools, should receive yearly from the Govern- 
ment a sum of about 40 in order to pay for the 
schooling of fifty children that is to say, for the 
salary of one teacher for every fifty children, on 
the condition that the Zemstvo, or the other con- 
trolling authorities, as the case might be, should 

* These are more or less in a state of decay, and in spite of 
periodic spurts of activity brought about by various stimuli, such 
as Government grants, they always lag behind the Zemstvo schools, 
as they are a nuisance to the clergy themselves, who rarely have 
time to attend to them. 


undertake to build, in a period of ten years, a 
number of schools sufficient to meet the needs 
of the whole population of their respective dis- 
tricts. The result of this Bill will be that in 
about five to six years 9 time Russia will have 
enough schools for the whole of its population, 
and will be able to contemplate the practical 
realization of compulsory education. 

As it is now, in European Russia the per- 
centage of people who can read or write is only 
2*9 in Siberia, and in the Caucasus it is less (12-3 
and 12-4) ; but it is higher in Poland (30*5), in the 
Baltic provinces (71-80), and in certain govern- 
ments, such as Moscow (40) and St. Petersburg 

Before considering the question of secondary 
education in Russia, it must be pointed out that 
all secondary and higher education in Russia is 
of two kinds namely, technical and general. 

General secondary education is either directly 
in the hands of the Minister of Education, or in 
the hands of private persons under the close 
supervision of the Minister of Education. There 

* I quote these figures from the Russian Year Book, compiled 
by Dr. Howard Kennard, for 1913. 


are, as in Germany, two classes of general second- 
ary education classical, which is taught in the 
gymnasia, and non-classical, which is taught in 
the Real Schools; the gymnasia are attended 
by boys and girls, but the schools are as a rule 
not mixed. The Gymnasium's course of in- 
struction lasts eight years ; that of the Real 
Schools, seven* 

The subjects taught in the gymnasia are as 
follows : Religion, Latin, Greek, Russian, mathe- 
matics (as far as logarithms and the binomial 
theorem, and including trigonometry), history, 
natural sciences, French or German, English 

The course of the Real Schools is the same, 
except that it excludes Latin and Greek, at- 
taches much more importance to mathematics 
and natural science, and has two obligatory 
foreign languages (French and German), and one 
optional foreign language. 

The course for girls is the same in kind, but 
less in degree. The tendency for girls is to go 
to the Real Schools in preference to the gymnasia ; 
and besides the gymnasia and the Real Schools, 
there are also for girls a certain number of in- 


stitutes and gymnasia founded by the Empress 
Marie, open only to the daughters of the nobility, 
and to foundlings and orphans. These gymnasia 
are more or less the same as the ordinary Govern- 
ment gymnasia; the institutes are closed pen- 
sions, organized more or less on the lines of a 
French convent ; the pupils are boarders, and 
the teaching of languages in these institutes is 
especially good. 

In the ordinary gymnasia the average number 
of pupils is 372, and the average number of 
pupils in each class is 35. These schools are 
open to people of every class ; but this does not 
exclude the possibility of nobles or other persons 
founding special private schools for members of 
their particular class. 

In the gymnasia and Real Schools the pupils 
are mostly children of town dwellers and guild 
artisans; the pupils live at home, and go to 
the school only during school hours. 

The school terms last from September 1 until 

Christmas, and from Christmas until June 1, 

leaving a holiday of three months in the summer. 

The hours of work in school are from 9 a.m. until 

noon, and then, after an hour's interval for lunch, 


from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., making five hours a day. 
Preparation is done at home. There are no half- 
holidays. On the other hand, there are many 
whole holidays, since every saint's day in Russia 
is a whole holiday, and besides the saints' days 
there are other holidays as well. One point of 
interest, in comparing Russian secondary schools 
with English secondary schools, is that in Rus- 
sian schools there is no such thing as corporal 
punishment, and if a Russian schoolboy were 
chastised or beaten by a teacher he would be 
almost ready to commit suicide from shame. 
In the Russian gymnasia and High Schools, the 
level and quality of the teaching are high. A 
university degree is required from all teachers, 
except in some rare cases in the lower classes 
of girls' gymnasia. On paper, and theoretically, 
nothing could appear better than the system 
of Russian secondary education. It seems to 
have all the advantages of the German system, 
and at the same time to be a little less strenuous. 
Nevertheless, almost any Russian, if you ask 
him what is the chief characteristic of Russian 
secondary education at present, will answer that 
the education received is bad and unsatisfactory. 


And if you ask whether this is the result of an 
incomplete or faulty programme of instruction, or 
of incompetent and inadequate teaching, he will 
say, No ; the scheme of instruction is suffi- 
ciently extensive and difficult, the teachers are 
well trained, competent and conscientious ; it is 
in spite of this., they tell you, that the educa- 
tion which is the fruit of this laborious course 
is unsatisfactory, and the culture obtained com- 
paratively low. If you press for the reason, they 
will point to the influence of the Government 
over the schools. The Government do not exer- 
cise an open and direct pressure on the schools, 
but they never cease from interfering indirectly 
with them. They exercise a kind of censorship 
over education ; the teachers are being con- 
stantly checked; certain subjects and certain 
topics are tabooed ; and the nature of the 
censorship varies with the changing ministers. 

Thus it is that education tends to be intensive 
in one direction and incomplete in another ; and 
the net result is that the culture obtained is to 
a certain extent superficial, and that the product 
of the Russian secondary schools is a youth who 
is intellectually half -baked. 


One of the cMef results of the attitude of the 
administration towards the schools is that the 
pupils look upon their course of education 
solely as a means of getting a diploma ; they 
cease to be interested in the education itself 
which is provided for them, and they throw 
themselves with exaggerated vehemence into 
any other political or philosophical channel out- 
side it into socialism, materialism, theoretical 
and practical anarchy. 

This is what Russians tell you, and it is no 
doubt true from their point of view; neverthe- 
less, if you compare the average level of secondary 
education in Russia with that which exists in 
England, you will notice at once that the aver- 
age Russian, as I have said earlier in this book, 
is infinitely better instructed. I use the word 
" instructed " purposely ; because if you take 
education in the larger sense, it is often the case 
that the more ignorant Englishman has on the 
whole a better balanced education than the over- 
instructed Russian. That is to say, the intellectu- 
ally immature product of the English schools will 
often be saner and nearer to reality and practical 
life, and fitter to deal with the emergencies of 


life, than the intellectually overripe Russian, who 
is immature in his very overripeness ; and who, 
by nature being intellectually plastic, agile, and 
assimilative, receives an education of a kind that 
starves him where he needs feeding, and over- 
feeds him where he needs a low diet, and leads 
him to seek for himself just that kind of in- 
tellectual food and drink which is likely to in- 
ebriate him, and to ruin his intellectual digestion. 
With regard to the course of education itself, he 
becomes simply and solely a diploma-hunter. 

These remarks do not apply to technical second- 
ary education. There are in Russia technical 
secondary schools of agriculture, engineering, 
mining, forestry, and railways (all under the 
management of the different ministries). The 
general course of education received here is the 
same in character as that given in the gymnasia 
and the Real Schools ; but it is combined with 
a special course, and the technical schools pro- 
duce a type of youth who is not only more prac- 
tical and nearer to reality, but who is more really 
cultivated in spite of the fact that the pupils of 
the gymnasia have the advantage of the more 
general course of education* 


There are also cadet schools and special schools 
for officers under the Ministry of War, which are 
sufficiently good ; and commercial schools (similar 
to the Real Schools), under the direction of the 
Minister of Commerce. 

The number^of schools in Russia is still not 
really sufficient for the demand; and since the 
regulations binding on the institution of schools 
by private persons have become less stringent, 
the increase in the number of such privately or- 
ganized schools has been enormous, and this 
testifies to the greatness of the general demand 
for education. 

Higher education in Russia is also of two kinds, 
technical and general. 

General higher education is supplied by the 
universities. There are universities at Moscow, 
St. Petersburg, Kiev, Kharkov, Yurieff, Warsaw, 
Kazan* Odessa, Tomsk, and Saratov. 

The largest university is that of Moscow, 
where there are nearly ten thousand students; 
and that of St, Petersburg, where there are 
eight thousand. Admission to the university 
takes place once a year, and admittance is given 
to all students who have passed what the Ger- 


mans call their Abiturienten E$amen, at their 
secondary school that is to say, their leaving- 
certificate examination. Besides the universities, 
there are higher technical schools, which we 
will come to presently. 

The system of university teaching is the same 
as that which exists in the rest of Europe and 
in Scotland ; the faculties include jurisprudence, 
physics and mathematics, medicine, historical 
philology, Oriental languages, and divinity. 

But the part played by the universities in 
Russian life and the special character of 
Russian university education are unique.* 

Every Englishman who is at all interested in 
Russia will be probably aware of the immense 
influence that the universities have had on the 
current of modern history in Russia. 

* University education is ike education in Russia. It has a tradi- 
tional pretension to be superior to al] other (specialized) education, 
owing to its encyclopaedic and philosophical character. The Eussian 
characteristic of knowing something about everything and having vast 
apergus is fostered by it. The university is to the Russian student 
what Paris is to the Frenchman, -what Athens was to the ancient world. 
The student often misses the lectures of his own course and attends 
the lectures of other faculties, and this is encouraged by the pro- 
fessors, who did the same when they were young. In Russia, erratic 
and sporadic information is preferred to systematic and narrow 


The young, the adolescent in all countries, have 
often played a part in politics, whenever the 
politics of a country have been in a state of 
ferment. Sometimes the expression of their zeal 
takes the form of patriotism, as in the War of 
Liberation in Germany ; sometimes, if the form 
of the Government is reactionary, it leads them 
to go and fight at the barricades. 

In Russia the students have always taken an 
interest in political matters ; but at the begin- 
ning of the century the universities were small 
and aristocratic* Nevertheless, in 1825, secret 
societies existed all over Russia, largely recruited 
from the ranks of the young, and these finally 
organized an insurrection in St. Petersburg, which 
has become famous in Russian history as the 
Decembrist Rising ; and which stands in contrast 
with all later insurrectionary risings in Russia, 
in that it was exclusively the work of the nobility 
and the gentry, and was confined to that class. 
The society which brought about this insurrec- 
tion modelled itself on the German association of 
students, the Tugendbund ; and although its prac- 
tical results were nil, it left a tradition which the 
students on the one hand, and the Government 


on the other hand (although unconsciously), 
never permitted to die out. 

All through the 'forties and the 'fifties, as 
secondary education first became a fact and 
subsequently went on increasing, the universities 
grew not only large, but democratic, and formed 
a democratic nucleus ; and it was here that the 
rationalistic movement which started in Western 
Europe found the most grateful soil and the 
quickest response. Liberal ideas had always 
flourished among the students, and this blend of 
liberal and rationalistic ideas, as soon as it began 
to spread and to increase, met with a counter- 
movement of repression from all successive govern- 
ments. And it is the glory of the Russian uni- 
versities that they never ceased to keep the flag 
of their ideal, their demand for political freedom, 
flying, and were always the soul of any pro- 
gressive political movement. 

The universities were originally autonomous, 
and though they were deprived of their liberties 
for a time in the early part of the century, they 
retained them fully in the reign of Alexander II. ; 
it was not until then that the universities came 
to be an important factor, since up to that 


period they had been, as I have already said, 
small and aristocratic ; and it was only in the 
'fifties that they became democratic and large 
enough to count. The privilege of autonomy 
which had been given to the universities meant 
that they were administered solely by a board of 
professors* at the head of which was a rector. 
This state of things lasted until the reign of 
Alexander IIL> when the universities were again 
deprived of their privileges and their autonomy, 
and the Government tried to administer them 
directly* with the usual result that trouble en- 
sued; only the trouble brought about by the 
conflict of the Government with the universities 
was more turbulent in character than that pro- 
duced by its clash with any other institutions or 
classes of society. 

A continual state of effervescence and of dis- 
turbance on the one hand, and of repression on 
the other, lasted until 1908, when autonomy 
was again restored to the universities ; and dur- 
ing the next five years university life began, 
in spite of periodical strikes and closures, more 
or less to settle down; but as reaction set in, 
a part of its activity was directed against the 


liberties of the university. In 1911, for instance, 
all the professors in Moscow were forced to 

At the present moment, if we do not hear of 
disturbances in the university, this can be at- 
tributed to the reaction among the students 
themselves, who are in a natural state of depres- 
sion at the result of the revolutionary movement 
of 1905, which from their point of view was a 
complete failure. It may safely be said that it 
is most improbable that such a state of things 
will last very long, and even now there are un- 
mistakable clouds on the horizon. The policy 
of the Government of giving, in educational 
matters, with one hand and of hampering and 
hindering with the other, was bound and is 
bound to result in trouble sooner or later. The 
troubles which occurred in the recent past in the 
life of the universities, during and subsequent 
to the revolutionary movement, without doubt 
lowered the general standard of education. The 
results obtained at present are worse than they 
should be, considering the excellence of the pro- 
fessors. Moreover, the constant troubles which 
arose in the life of the universities during the 


revolutionary period, caused generally by some 
move on the part of the Government, and in- 
variably followed by repressive measures (in- 
volving temporary closure), drove thousands of 
students to seek education abroad. 

All that I have said about the universities 
applies to the higher technical institutes, only 
in a lesser degree. There is a considerable num- 
ber of such technical institutes in Russia. St. 
Petersburg alone can boast of a Polytechnic, a 
Technological Institute, a Mining Institute, an 
Institute of Civil Engineers, a Higher Commer- 
cial Institute; and in addition to these there 
are institutes in other parts of Russia where 
higher education can be had in the branches 
of mining, railways, ways and communications, 
forestry and agronomy, besides an increasing 
number of agricultural schools all over the 
country. The difference between the character 
of higher technical and higher general educa- 
tion, between the higher technical schools and 
the universities, is the same as the difference 
between the character of the technical secondary 
schools and the general secondary schools. 

As in the case of technical secondary educa- 


tion, higher technical education produces a more 
practical type than the universities ; and the 
students of the higher technical institutes only 
take part in politics when matters have reached 
a definite crisis, in which their action can have 
practical effect. The great importance of the 
universities and of the higher technical insti- 
tute in Russia lies in the fact that they supply 
the ranks of the whole of the higher intelligentsia. 
All lawyers and all doctors come from the uni- 
versities, and the life and the fate of the uni- 
versities affect the cultured classes vitally. This 
works both ways. The universities affect the 
cultured classes, and the cultured classes act on 
the universities. 

For instance, every medical officer in every 
county council is a university man, and he will 
be vitally interested in the fate and doings of 
his alma mater. Any blow at any particular 
university will affect a whole class of people all 
over the country ; the influence of the univer- 
sities spreads like a network over the whole length 
and breadth of Russia, and produces an esprit 
de corps and a strong spirit of freemasonry among 

the former students of the various universities. 

9 a 


Games and physical exercise are not a feature 
of Russian education certainly not at least in 
the English sense; and though outdoor sports, 
such as boating and football, have been introduced, 
and are popular in some of the universities 
Odessa, for instance it is impossible at present 
to discern even the dawn of any trend towards 
physical sports and exercise such as we have in 
France or Spain, for instance. 

Lately, however, an organization of gymnas- 
tical societies, under the supervision of Czech 
instructors, and in some ways resembling the 
German Turnvereine, have taken a firm root in 
the towns, and enjoy great popularity ; these 
societies hold yearly festivals, and organize com- 
petitions between various towns. The popu- 
larity of these societies is likely to increase in 
the future. 

Besides the universities and schools I have 
mentioned, there are still a great many more 
educational institutions : veterinary institutes, 
schools of art, archaeology, Oriental languages, 
and law; seminaries, ecclesiastical and naval 
schools, and private institutions ; and at the 
top of the ladder of education there are two 


academies, one of art and one of science, con- 
sisting of professors, men of science and letters, 
who are chosen by election. Scholarships and 
grants to poor students are distributed both by 
the universities and the higher technical schools. 
If one reviews the question of Russian educa- 
tion as a whole, one is forced to the conclusion 
that the material both of the teacher and the 
pupil is good ; the staff of teachers excellent ; 
but that the whole system is continually and 
fundamentally vitiated by a policy, not exactly 
of repression, but of constant censorship, inter- 
ference, checking, nagging, and hindering which 
saps the school life of Russia, and deprives it of 
all potential interest and vitality for the pupil. 
It is reduced to an official machine, which turns 
out either a specimen of bureaucratic medio- 
crity, or a rebel who reacts against it and is 
driven to anarchy and dynamite. If the Gov- 
ernment were to leave the whole matter alone, 
there is no doubt that the schools would not 
only manage their own affairs perfectly peace- 
fully and well themselves, but that they would 
succeed in turning out a type of youth who would 
be more really cultured than the present over- 


ripe and immature, half-baked, yet partially 
burned specimen, which is the average product 
of a system of education which cannot fail to be 
one-sided and unsatisfactory so long as it is 
cramped and diverted from larger channels by the 
exasperating supervision of a paternal, officious, 
and suspicious administration. 



THE judicial system of to-day in Russia dates 
from what is called the Epoch of the 
Great Reforms that is, of the reforms made in 
1864 by the Emperor Alexander II, His new 
judicial system is, next in order to the abolition 
of serfdom, the most important of those reforms. 
Up till 1864 justice in Russia dwelt behind 
closed doors. It was organized on a class basis. 
There was a court for the gentry, a court for 
the townsman and for such peasants as did not 
belong to landowners. Judicial decisions, civil 
and criminal, were based solely on documentary 
evidence prepared by the police. No oral evi- 
dence was admitted. The proceedings were held 
in camera. The judges appeared in public only 
in order to pass sentence or to deliver a judg- 
ment. It is needless to say that a system of 


this kind encouraged venality, partiality, and 

In reforming the old system, the Imperial 
Government borrowed elements from the judi- 
cial systems existing in France and in England, 
but it by no means confined itself to slavish imi- 
tation. The aim of the reformers was to reach 
the principles and ideas on which our system and 
the French system are based ; and they created 
a new system founded on ideas which have been 
endorsed both in theory and in practice by modern 
civilization. The chief principles at the basis of 
the reformed judicial system in Russia are (1) 
the separation of administrative and judicial 
powers; (2) the independence of the magistrate 
and the tribunals ; (3) the equality of all subjects 
in the eye of the law (the abolition in the eye of 
the law of all class distinctions) ; (4) the publicity 
of trials ; (5) the adoption of oral procedure ; (6) 
the participation of the people in the system 
through (a) the introduction of trial by jury, 
(b) originally, although this was altered later, 
the election of judges. As a general principle, it 
can be laid down that important cases in Russia 
axe tried, as they are tried elsewhere in Europe, 


by jury, in public and at the assizes ; with one 
notable exception, that of all political offences 
and all crimes and misdemeanours committed by 
the Press, which are tried without a jury. 

Where the Russian system differs from the 
English and the French systems is that the judi- 
cature is divided into two sections mutually inde- 
pendent, and differing in the extent of their 
jurisdiction and in the manner in which their 
judges are appointed. 

As in many other countries, there are two 
branches of tribunals firstly, what were actually, 
and what now correspond to, justices of the 
peace, dealing with petty cases ; and, secondly, 
ordinary tribunals dealing with larger matters. 
These two branches of justice are quite distinct. 
They are parallel to each other. They are sepa- 
rate and isolated one from the other, and meet 
only on the top of the ladder in their common 
right of appealing to the Senate, which is the 
highest court of appeal. 

Beneath this double system of judicature, local 
courts exist in every canton: (Volostnye Sudi), 
tribunaux de bailliage, which were established 
when the serfs were liberated, dealing ex- 


clusively with the peasants' affairs, and in which 
both the judges and judged are peasants. 

The Canton Court consists of a tribunal of 
three judges elected by the peasants. It deals 
with small cases, and deals with them largely 
according to established custom and tradition. 
It stands to reason that peasants will deal with 
matters which concern their own customs, codes, 
and idiosyncrasies far better than people of any 
other class.* 

The judicial system which comes next above 
the Canton Courts is dual : Petty and Grave. 
The Petty cases are entrusted to local justices of 
the peace, town judges, and zemskie nachalniki. 

In 1864, when the judicial system was re- 
formed, all such cases were dealt with by justices 
of the peace, who were elected by the Zemstvo. 
In 1889, the elective justices of the peace were 
done away with, and they were replaced by 
zemsTcie nachalniki, who, as I have already ex- 
plained in Chapter IV., are a kind of official 

* According to a new law, which, comes into force on January 1, 1914, 
a higher -village court has been created for the consideration of 
appeals from the Canton Court, consisting of the local justice of 
peace as chairman, and the presidents of the Canton Courts of 
the district as members. 


squire, exercising executive and judicial authority 
over the villages in their district. They are nomi- 
nated by the governor of the province and ap- 
pointed by the Minister of the Interior. Elective 
justices of the peace have survived only in St. 
Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, and Kharkov, and 
some other towns, where they are elected by the 
town assemblies for a term of three years on a 
property qualification.* 

In all other towns, and everywhere else, where 
there are justices of the peace, they are now 
appointed by the Minister of Justice. 

This rather complicated system (under which 
the functions of a judge were committed into 
the hands of persons (zemslcie nachalniki) who 
were in their main attributes representative of 
the executive) is now to be abolished by a new 
law recently passed by the Duma, which divests 
the zemslcie nachalniJci of their judicial functions, 
and replaces the elective justices of the peace 
all over the country. This new law comes into 
force in regard to ten provinces on January 1, 
1914, and will be extended over the remaining 

* Nishni-Novgorod, Kazan, Saratov, Kishniev, and the district 
lyiezd) of St. Petersburg. 


part of the country in the course of the next 
year. The jurisdiction of the new justices of the 
peace has been increased by the new law. In 
civil matters they are now competent to try 
cases involving fines amounting to 1,000 roubles, 
and criminal offences carrying a sentence of 
simple imprisonment without any curtailment 
of civil rights. The appeal from the justices 
of the peace is made to the general meeting 
of the justices of the district ; and from the 
decision of this meeting (siezd) an appeal is 
allowed, on points of law only, to the Senate. 
The Senate, as is shown below, may either 
dismiss the appeal or order a new trial. There 
is, however, no appeal to the Senate at all 
where the sentence carries with it a fine of 
less than 100 roubles. The limit is now 
30 roubles. 

In the hands, then, of the justices of the peace 

or of the zemskie nachalniki, as the case mav 

~ / 

be, are civil claims not exceeding 500 roubles 
(50), and criminal cases where the penalty does 
not exceed four months' imprisonment or a 
fine of 300 roubles (30). Appeals against 
the decision of a justice of the peace may be 


made to a bench of justices presided over by 
a justice of the peace elected by his colleagues ; 
appeals against the verdicts of town judges and 
of the zemskie nachalniki are heard by the 
District Tribunal (Uiezdny Siezd), a court the 
sessions of the district of which the marshal of 
the nobility of the district is the ex-officio chair- 
man, and which consists of zemskie nachalniki 
(with the exception of course of the particular 
zemsky nachalnik or town judge against whose 
verdict the appeal is being made), town judges, 
and the so-called honorary justices of peace. 

Appeals against the verdict of the local courts 
(Volostnye Sudi) are also heard by this district 

An appeal against the verdict of the District 
Tribunal (Uiezdny Siezd) is allowed on points of 
law only, and goes before a special Board called 
the Gubernskoye Prisustvie, consisting of the 
governor of the province, as chairman, members 
of the Divisional Court, and some higher civil 
servants of the province. 

Parallel with this branch of justice, which deals 
with petty cases* we have quite separate from it 
another branch which deals with more serious 


cases, and which consists of two tribunals : the 
Divisional Court (Court of Assizes), and the 
High Court. 

The Divisional Court deals with all civil cases 
(with the exception of petty cases), and roughly 
speaking, with all criminal cases, with the exception 
of those which concern the prosecution of officials 
for misdemeanours committed in the performance 
of their official duties, and also the great majority 
of political offences, which are dealt with by the 
High Court. The criminal cases which come be- 
fore the Divisional Court can be judged by the 
bench only, or by the bench and a jury ; but if 
the offence is such that the punishment may limit 
the civil rights of the accused, or deprive him 
of them altogether, the case must be tried before 
a jury. Generally speaking, all criminal cases of 
any importance are tried before a jury. 

The Divisional Court goes on circuit from place 
to place; its jurisdiction usually extends over 
five or six districts, and sometimes over a whole 

The Russian judicial system is the same as the 
French system as regards the nature and com- 
position of its tribunals, its tribunals of first in- 


stance, its facilities for appeal, its court of high 
appeal (Cassation), its instruments of justice, and 
its method of procedure. The justice of the 
peace and the zemsky nacJialnik (who at present 
fulfils the duties of a justice of the peace), and 
the town judge (GorodsJcoi Sudya}* are the only 
judges who sit alone. In all other tribunals 
there is more than one judge. Every civil or 
criminal case in Russia must be heard by three 
magistrates, one of whom is the president. 

A judge is irremovable unless he should com- 
mit a criminal offence. He can be transferred, 
but he cannot be removed. Attached to every 
Divisional Court and every High Court there is 
a magistrate appointed by the Government 
called the procurator (who is not irremovable, 
and holds office at the pleasure of the Minister 
of Justice), who corresponds to the French pro- 
cureur ; he is the advocate-general and public 
prosecutor. His business is to prosecute crime. 
But before the case reaches the procurator, it un- 
dergoes a preliminary investigation at the hands 

* This officer is to be abolished by the new law. At present 
he exercises the same judicial functions as the zemsky nachalnik, 
with the difference that his jurisdiction is in the town districts, that 
of the zemsky nachalnik in the country districts. 


of an examining magistrate (Sudebny Slyedo- 
yatel) who corresponds to the French *3uge (Fin- 
struction. He begins his investigation at the 
instance either of the police ? or of a private indi- 
vidual, or of a plaintiff. Theoretically, the inves- 
tigation was supposed to be entirely separate 
from the prosecution ; but, in practice, the ex- 
amining magistrate has become more or less a 
tool in the hands of the procurator. The examin- 
ing magistrate has the right either to refer the 
result of his investigation to the procurator, or 
to let the case drop altogether, should in his 
opinion the grounds for further proceedings be 

The public prosecutor (Procurator], on receiv- 
ing the dossier of the case from the examining 
magistrate (Slyedovatel), can either ask the court 
to drop the proceedings in view of the failure of 
the prosecution to make a case, or else he draws 
up a bill of indictment (Obmnitelni Akt] on which 
the accused has to take his trial. In the case of 
more serious offences, the bill of indictment, before 
it goes before the court, has to be confirmed 
by the High Court (Sudebnaya Palata), which 
acts as the French Chambre de Mise en Accusa- 


tion. Civil cases do not go before the procurator, 
and are tried, as in France, without a jury. 

The procedure resembles that of a French 
court of justice. First of all, the witnesses (in 
criminal cases) are called, and each witness tells 
his story consecutively. He is then cross-ex- 
amined by the procurator, and then by counsel 
for the prosecution and counsel for the defence. 
Cross-examination is by no means so formidable 
as in an English criminal case, because the counsel 
for the defence *can at any moment insert a ques- 
tion amongst the questions put by the counsel 
for the prosecution. When all the witnesses have 
been heard, the procurator speaks for the prose- 
cution. He is followed by the counsel for the 
plaintiff, and then by the counsel for the de- 
fence. After this, the procurator replies to the 
counsel for the defence, and they in their turn 
can reply on given points. The President of 
the Court then sums up, and puts to the jury the 
questions on which they are to give their verdict. 

The jury have the right of putting questions 
to any witness, as well as to the counsel for the 
prosecution and to the counsel for the defence. 

The jury consist of twelve men, c; good men 


and true." They are chosen from all classes of 
the population, from the whole of the inhabitants 
of the district, subject to certain conditions of 
age, property, domicile, and position. In the 
first place, there is a property qualification, which 
varies according to different localities. All those 
who fulfil the conditions of the law as regards 
the age and property qualification are entered on 
a list (obshchy spisok) and become liable to serve 
on a jury. From this larger list, a second nar- 
rower list (ocheredny spisok} is drawn up o,!e 
the men who seem the more qualified for the 

The sifting process, of which this second list is 
the result, is carried out in every district by a 
Board including several officials, the marshal 
of the nobility for its Chairman. The pro- 
cess is repeated every year, and after the sifting 
about sixty men remain on the second list, out of 
which the jury are drawn by lot. 

But a property qualification is not in all cases 
indispensable for a juryman. Public servants, 
unless they are in the army, in the police, or in 
the magistrature, and with the exception of offi- 
cials of the first four classes, who are exempted, 


can be chosen ; likewise all local elective officers, 
especially peasants, such, as the judges of the 
Canton Courts, the elders in the commune and 
the cantons. The net result is that the jury is 
mixed and democratic, and as a rule contains a 
leaven of peasants and minor public servants, 
and sometimes, indeed, consists almost wholly of 
men from the lower classes. Here, for instance, 
is a list of the professions followed by the 
members of the jury before whom the Beiliss 
ritual murder case was heard at Kiev. This 
jury was exceptionally below the average of 
educational standard.* 

1. Peasant, agricultural labourer. 

2. Peasant, cab- driver. 

3. Minor public servant employed in postal 


4. Minor public servant employed in postal 


5. Peasant, employed in a wine warehouse. 

6. Peasant, agricultural labourer. 

7. Townsman, employed at railway station. 

8. Peasant, agricultural labourer. 

* It has been widely affirmed that there has never been a peasant 
jury in Kiev before. 


9. Secretary at governor's office, assistant of 
the revisor in the auditor's office. 

10. Peasant, agricultural labourer. 

11. Peasant, controller in a town tramway. 

12. Burgher, small householder. 

The above list, whether it is below average or 
not and it was said at the time to be startlingly 
below the average shows more or less the nature 
of a Russian jury in a small town. There is 
generally a larger dose of a more educated ele- 
ment, but the elements which appear in this list 
will probably be present in most juries in vary- 
ing quantities. It should be noted, however, 
that the composition of the lists from which the 
jury is drawn is very much in the hands of the 
local authorities. In a big town a jury exclusively 
composed of peasants is an exception, and a very 
rare one. 

Hence the peculiar character of the Russian 
jury, about which much has been written and 
much is being written. 

Its chief characteristic is its leniency, its in- 
dulgence, its tendency to acquit. And on this 
account there existed, and there still exists in 


some quarters in Russia, a movement against the 
jury as an institution, wliicli bases its disap- 
proval on the reluctance of the jury to con- 
demn. But it is improbable that such a move- 
ment will ever have a practical result. The dis- 
advantages of tampering in any way with trial by 
jury are too obvious. Many characteristic stories 
exist in Russian literature, and a still greater 
number float about in the flotsam and jetsam 
of current talk, illustrating by striking instances 
the peculiar psychology of the Russian jury. 

It is said that a jury once returned a verdict 
of " innocent, with extenuating circumstances." 
Garin, the author, tells how his house was once 
set on fire by a peasant, and how without much 
difficulty he collected overwhelming evidence 
against a particular peasant for deliberate arson. 
The peasant was tried before a jury of peasants 
in the Canton Court. His guilt was clearly 
proved. Nobody had any doubt but that the 
verdict would be " guilty." The peasants on the 
jury did not deny the prisoner's guilt, but were 
of the opinion that six years' penal servitude 
the sentence the prisoner would have received 
for arson was disproportionately heavy. 


" Two years in prison/' they reasoned wrote 
the foreman, narrating the case to Garin ;c would 
be enough to instil wisdom in him ; but to 
send him to penal servitude is too much. In 
what are his wife and children guilty ? What 
will they do without a bread-winner ? . . . 
Their final argument was that it was a fine day, 
and the sun was shining spring-like ; how could 
they ruin a man on such a fine day ? They 
were sorry for the gentleman, but still more sorry 
for the orphans and the wife. Nobody was ever 
ruined on account of a fire. It was God's will, 
and must be accepted as such." 

u It was only afterwards," says Garin, the 
sufferer in the incident, and the teller of the 
story, " that it became clear to me that what 
from our point of view may seem the greatest 
injustice is from the point of view of the people 
the expression of the highest justice in the world." 
Immediately after the incident, Garin was obliged 
to leave the village where it occurred. He re- 
visited the place two years later. " I was at 
once met," he writes, " by a deputation of peas- 
ants, whose spokesman made me a kind of speech 
in which he said that the peasants were very 


glad to see me; and that they were very glad 
for my sake that the prisoner had been ac- 
quitted ; that the Lord had not allowed me to 
be burdened with a sin, in interfering with what 
was not my business but God's the hounding of 
criminals. 4 The Lord saved thee from sin/ 
they said to me ; ; all the good which thou didst 
us has remained to thee, and has not been in 
vain. The Lord punished them.' " And finally 
he tells how the peasants narrated the bad end 
the criminals had come to, taking it as a matter 
of course that such things belonged to the sphere 
of Providence, and not to that of man. 

The story is characteristic. I could quote 
many others of the same kind stories in some 
cases which are startling in their unexpect- 
edness, and in the difference of the point of 
view from that prevailing in other classes and in 
other countries. But strange as this point of 
view may seem, it will generally be found that 
there is in it a basis of common sense and an 
element of sound fairness. The Russian peasant 
juryman is indifferent to legal subtleties, and 
often quite unaffected by forensic evidence, 
which he looks on as a thing made to order, 


bought and sold. He will judge by his con- 
science, and according to his own code of morals, 
which, if indulgent, is none the less definite. 

A friend of mine was once serving on a jury 
in St. Petersburg. The prisoner was found 
guilty of an odious crime, but the jury agreed 
to a verdict of " guilty, with extenuating circum- 
stances." My friend asked one man, who was 
a peasant, how there could be extenuating cir- 
cumstances in such a case, to which he answered, 
" I am not quite sure he did it," If the principle 
be a just one, that it is better that a guilty man 
should go free than that an innocent man should 
be condemned, then the chief accusation made 
against the characteristics of the Russian jury 
breaks down. A Russian jury will be almost 
certain to give the prisoner the benefit of the 
doubt. When the ritual murder case began at 
Kiev, it was pointed out with dismay in several 
quarters that it was absurd to try such a case 
before an uneducated jury that a jury of that 
kind could not possibly appreciate complicated 
questions of medical expertise, and all the arcana 
of folklore and talmudic tradition and interpreta- 
tions of Hebrew texts, which played a large part 


in the trial. But when the trial was oveiv those 
who interviewed the jurymen said that the jury 
had paid no attention to all that ; the visit to 
the site where the body was found was the first 
thing which affected their opinion ; the eloquence 
of the able lawyers engaged on both sides did not 
influence them, as they said lawyers were "hired;" 
but the conduct of one of the jury, who spent a 
large part of his time in prayer, impressed them ; 
and finally they gave a verdict of " not guilty/' 
which was the result of the workings of their 

This is all the more remarkable in that they 
very probably took the existence of ritual murders 
as a matter of course ; but however this may have 
been, they realized that they had to find Beili&s 
guilty or not guilty^ and they found hi' j^t 
guilty. A jury chosen from the most cultivated 
classes of Russia could not have shown more 
sense, and as this case had raised political ques- 
tions and racial passions just as the Dreyfus case 
did had such a jury been infected by partisan- 
ship or political or religious fanaticism, it is quite 
possible that things might not have gone so well 
for the accused. For whereas the jury thus con- 


stituted might have been liberal, it might just 
as well have been reactionary and anti-Semite. 
Of course the Russian jury has its drawbacks it 
may, if consisting of the lower classes, very 
likely look upon certain forms of fraud as rather 
a good joke ; it may be over-indulgent to certain 
crimes; but if the principle I mentioned just now 
is sound, that it is better for the guilty to escape 
than that the innocent should suffer, then these 
drawbacks are amply compensated for. 

There is another point to remember : by height- 
ening the educational average of a Russian jury, 
you would probably increase rather than diminish 
its leniency ; because this leniency is due to a 
great extent to the inborn indulgence, tolerance, 
and humaneness of the Russian people. 

Juries drawn exclusively from the intelligentsia 
are said to be still more indulgent than peasant 
juries. Opinions differ on this point. A Russian 
friend of mine tells me he believes the peasant 
jury the more tolerant, in spite of what he has 
heard, and in spite of his own experience to the 
contrary ; but it is probably a question of the 
nature of the crime the intelligentsia being more 
severe for certain crimes which the peasants would 


condone as quite natural (say, certain forms of 
forgery and violence), and the peasants, on the 
other hand, dealing severely with a crime towards 
which the intelligentsia would be more leniently 
disposed. But the main point is that a Russian 
jury, whatever its composition, is fundamentally 
indulgent. It is far more indulgent than a jury 
chosen from any other European country. I 
remember being in St. Petersburg just after the 
Crippen case, and hearing it discussed among 
educated people in reactionary circles. These 
people could not understand how it was possible 
to hang a man on such slender evidence. Even 
if the evidence had been abundant, the punish- 
ment seemed to them too severe, but on slender 
evidence the sentence seemed to them monstrous. 

This leads us to the question of the punish- 
ments which the Russian law can inflict. 

The death penalty exists only for attempts 
on the life of the Emperor or members of the 
imperial family, forcible attempts to dethrone 
the Emperor, and certain cases of high treason. 

The death penalty was abolished by the 
Empress Elisabeth in 1753. It fe true that when 

this was done it was rather the name than any- 



tMng else which, was abolished, since as long 
as flogging continued with the Jcnut *, a leather 
whip which was as deadly as the cat- of -nine- 
tails, a sentence of over thirty blows (thirty-five 
blows was the maximum allowed during the 
last years of flogging) was enough to prove 

Flogging with the Jcnut was abolished by the 
Emperor Nicholas I. during the first year of his 
reign (1825). During the reign of Alexander IL, 
from 1855 to 1876, only one man was executed 
on the scaffold Karakosov, who made an at- 
tempt on the Emperor's life. From 1866 to 
1903 only 114 men suffered the penalty of death 
throughout the Russian empire. These statistics 
were read out and discussed in the Council of 
Empire in July 1906 by M. Tagantsev, a cele- 
brated Russian legist, who pointed out that, in 
contradistinction to this leniency, during 1906, 
from January to June, 108 people had been con- 
demned to death under martial law, and ninety 
had been executed, not counting those who had 
been killed without trial. 

When the Duma was dissolved in July 1906, 

* The word kr^ut is the ordinary word for whip. 


and P. A. Stolypin took the reins of government 
in his hands, martial law continued ; drum-head 
courts-martial were held all over the country, 
and the number of people executed during 1907 
and 1908 was very great. 

But it must be remembered that during this 
period the country was in a state of anarchy. 
Acts of terrorism were being committed almost 
daily by the social-revolutionary party, and acts 
of hooliganism and robbery under arms by the 
criminal classes, who imitated and adopted the 
methods of the revolutionaries. A vicious circle 
of lawless crime and indiscriminate retaliation 
seemed to have closed round Russian life, so that 
during all this period the executions were to the 
crimes in a proportion of about one to three. 
It should also be remembered that during cer- 
tain phases of this epoch many parts of the 
country were virtually in a state of civil war. 

In any case, whether Stolypin's policy was 
defensible or not and theoretically it was in- 
defensible he was successful with the help of 
the reaction that came about in public opinion in 
putting an end to the anarchy, and after a time 
things began to quiet down ; drum-head court- 


martial ceased, martial law gave way to " states 
of reinforced protection/' and the country gradu- 
ally gained its normal state, and capital punish- 
ment has once more become rarer, although it 
cannot yet be said to be non-existent, since, in 
virtue of states of reinforced protection ( Ysilenaya 
Olchrana), and by military courts, during 1912, 
335 people were condemned to death, and 124 
were executed. 

In 1913, 143 were sentenced and 33 were 
executed (the large number of persons reprieved 
being due during this year to an amnesty given 
on the occasion of the tercentenary of the imperial 
family). The majority of crimes for which sen- 
tences of death were passed are evasion from 
prisons, riots in prison, or attacks on prison 

The criminal penalties meted out by Russian 
law are : 

(a) Penal servitude for life, or for terms rang- 

ing from four years to twenty years. 

(b) Imprisonment from four to six years with 

consequent loss of civil rights. 

(c) Deportation to remote parts of the empire 

for settlement 


Formerly all convicts were deported, but now 
some of them serve their terms in prisons in the 
local Russian provinces. 

Besides these criminal penalties, there exist also 
what are called corrective penalties, which include 
various degrees of punishment, ranging from 
reprimands, fines, and imprisonment from three 
days to three months, at the bottom of the scale, 
to sentences of one to four years with loss of 
civil privileges at the top of the scale. Among 
these corrective penalties is what is called fortress 
imprisonment for one year four months to four 
years with loss of rights, and imprisonments for 
four weeks to one year four months without loss of 
rights. This punishment is usually applied to de- 
linquencies of a political or of a literary character. 

Certain crimes are far less severely punished 
in Russia than they are in England. A murderer, 
for instance, as a rule will receive a sentence of 
twelve years' penal servitude. In some cases, 
if there are extenuating circumstances, if he 
acted under provocation, he will probably be 
acquitted altogether. Again, there are cases of 
murder which have been punished by not more 
than two years 5 imprisonment. 


Had Beiliss been found guilty he would not 
have been hanged as was stated in some of the 
London newspapers but the maximum sentence 
he could have received (for murder of a child 
accompanied by violence) would have been penal 
servitude for life. 

We have seen that there are in Russia two 
tribunals the Divisional Court and the High 
Court, and that the High Court deals chiefly with 
political offences, or with the delinquencies of 
officials. Cases heard by the High Court are 
tried either by the Bench, or by a special tribunal 
consisting of judges and what are called " class 
representatives." These consist of the marshal 
of the nobility of the government, a mayor from 
the town, and the elder of the canton (a peasant). 
Appeals against verdicts of the Divisional Court 
in cases which were tried without a jury can be 
made to the High Court, which can modify 
the sentence, and a final appeal can be made 
to the Senate. In cases which are tried by a 
jury no appeal can be made on points of fact ; 
but an appeal can be made on points of law to 
the Senate, which can either confirm the sentence, 
or order the case to be retried either before the 


same tribunal, or before a tribunal exercising a 
similar jurisdiction. The verdict in cases tried 
by jury cannot therefore be modified, but it can 
be cancelled and quashed. 

The Senate in these cases corresponds to the 
French Cour de Cassation. 

The Russian Bar came into existence as 
a profession in 1864. Any one of a certain 
education and standing is admitted to plead in 
a criminal case in Russia, unless the case be 
political. As regards civil cases, the privilege is 
limited to the right of appearing before a petty 
tribunal three times a year. This is an excep- 
tion to the rule that in a civil case only sworn 
advocates or " private attorneys " * are entitled 
to plead. Professional lawyers receive their train- 
ing at the university, and when, by passing the 
necessary examination, they are in possession of 
a certificate or degree, they are obliged to pass 
through a preliminary stage of five years' " devil- 
ing; " then after a formal examination in legal pro- 
cedure, they become full-blown " sworn lawyers " 
(prisiazhnye povierenye). 

* Private attorneys (chastnye povierenye) plead before a specific 
court from which they have received a special licence* They are not 
required to take a university degree. 


The Russian Bar has more than justified its 
existence. Since it came into being in 1864 it 
has produced a number of most remarkable men, 
remarkable as lawyers as well as orators. Lately, 
since the creation of the Duma, its influence has 
made itself felt in politics, since many of the 
members of the Duma who have played a leading 
part in politics have been lawyers. The lawyers 
naturally had the habit of speech, and were 
often trained orators/so that as soon as an oppor- 
tunity arose for their peculiar gifts to have free 
play, they were bound to come to the front on 
both sides of the House. Among the members 
of the Duma who have attained to prominence 
are such men as Plevako, Maklakov, and 
that of the late M. Muromtsev, the president 
of the first Duma, who was one of the most cele- 
brated lawyers of the University of Moscow, and 
one of the brightest ornaments of the Russian 
Civil Bar. 

Generally speaking, of all the reforms carried 
out by Alexander II., that of the judicial system 
leaving out of account the emancipation of the 
serfs, which was the sine qua non of all reform, 
and without which all other reforms were use- 


less was the most greatly acclaimed. In the 
first place, because the old system of justice 
had been so bad ; and in the second place, because 
the new system proved to be a real success. 

During the period of reaction which set in in 
the reign of Alexander III., and during the first 
years of the reign of the present Emperor, under 
the reactionary administration of Plehve, the 
Bar still retained its independence ; and during 
this time, it was at the Bar, and at the Bar only, 
that independence of thought and speech could 
be said to exist. 

It must be said that the revolutionary move- 
ment had a bad effect on it : firstly, because 
many of its Liberal members were suspended ; 
and secondly because the Government, after the 
revolutionary movement, did everything it could 
to diminish the moral independence of the judges, 
and to make them as reactionary as possible, 
and in some respects this was successful. The 
result of this policy is being felt now in political 
or semi-political cases. But this is probably 
only a transitional and temporary state of re- 
action, following on the disturbance of the revo- 
lutionary movement, and it will remedy itself 


automatically in the course of time, if the quiet 
state of things that now exists continues ; but if 
this proves not to be the case, if the sparks of 
discontent suddenly burst into flame, then cir- 
cumstances of a different kind will restore to the 
Bar its ancient independence. Yet as things are 
now, and taking all drawbacks, all temporary 
embarrassments and hindrances, and all re- 
actionary influences into account; with every 
disadvantage under which it may be labouring, 
the Russian Bar must still be acknowledged 
an admirable institution of which any country 
should feel justly proud. 



GOGOL, the greatest of Russian humorists, 
has a passage in one of his books, where 
in exile he cries out to his country to reveal the 
secret of her fascination. 

" What is the mysterious and inscrutable 
power which lies hidden in you ? " he exclaims. 
" Why does your aching and melancholy song 
echo unceasingly in one's ears ? Russia, what 
do you want of me ? What is there between 
you and me ? " This question has often been 
repeated, not only by Russians in exile, but 
by foreigners who have lived in Russia. 

The country is so devoid of the more obvious 
and unmistakable signs of glamour and attrac- 
tion. As Gogol says, not here are those astonish- 
ing miracles of nature which axe made still 
more startling by the triumphs of art. 

In Russia there are no 

" Congesta manu proeruptis oppida saxis, 
Fluminaque antiques subterlabentia muros " ; 


" old palaces and towers 
Quivering within the wave's intenser day, 
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers " ; 

no " noble wreck in ruinous perfection/ 3 where 
" the stars twinkle through the loops of time " ; 
no "castle, precipice-encurled in a gash of the 
wind-grieved Apennine"; no "rose-red city' 
half as old as time." 

There are none of those spots were nature, art, 
time, and history have combined to catch the 
heart with a charm in which beauty, association, 
and even decay are indistinguishably mingled; 
where art has added the picturesque to the beauty 
of nature ; and where time has made magic the 
handiwork of art ; and where history has peopled 
the spot with countless phantoms, and cast over 
everything the strangeness and the glamour of 
her spell. 

Such places you will find in France and in 
England, all over Italy, in Spain, and in Greece, 
but not in Russia* Russia is a country of colon- 


ists, where life has been a continual struggle 
against the rigour and asperity of the climate, and 
whose political history is the record of a long 
and desperate struggle against adverse circum- 
stances ; whose oldest city was sacked and 
burnt just at the moment when it was beginning 
to flourish ; whose first capital was destroyed 
by fire in 1812 ; whose second capital dates from 
the seventeenth century ; whose stone houses 
are rare in the country, and whose wooden 
houses are perpetually being destroyed by fire. 

A country of long winters and fierce summers, 
of rolling plains, uninterrupted by mountains and 
unvariegated by valleys. 

And yet the charm is there. It is a fact which 
is felt by quantities of people of different nation- 
alities and races ; and it is difficult, if you live in 
Russia, to escape it, and once you have felt it 
you will never be free from it. The aching, melan- 
choly song, which Gogol says wanders from sea 
to sea throughout the length and breadth of the 
land, will for ever echo in your heart, and haunt 
the recesses of your memory. 

It is impossible to analyze charm, for if charm 
could be analyzed it would cease to exist; and 


it is difficult to define the charm which is attached 
to places where there is so little of that start- 
lingly obvious beauty of nature or art whose 
appeal is instantaneous ; where there is no 
playground of romance, and no abodes haunted 
by poetic or historical ghosts and echoes. 

But to those who have never been to Russia, 
and who will perhaps never go there, Turgeniev's 
descriptions of the country will give an idea of 
this unique and peculiar magic. For instance, 
the description of the summer night, when on 
the plain the children tell each other bogey 

Jr o J 

stories ; or the description of that other July even- 
ing, when out of the twilight from a long way 
off on the plain, a child's voice is heard calling, 
" Antropka-a-a," and Antropka answers, " Wha- 
a-a-a-a-at ; " and far away out of the immensity 
comes the answering voice, " Come ho-ome ; 
because daddy wants to whip you." 

Turgeniev will afford to those who wish to 
travel in their armchair magical glimpses of just 
those particular episodes, pictures, incidents, 
sayings and doings, touches of human nature, 
phases of landscape, shades of atmosphere, which 
constitute the charm of Russian life. 


Whereas those who will actually travel in 
Russia itself will recognize not only that what he 
writes is true to nature, but that incidents such 
as those he records and causes to live again by 
means of his incomparable art are a frequent and 
common experience to those who have eyes to see. 

The picturesqueness peculiar to countries rich 
in a long tradition of art, and in varied and con- 
flicting historical associations, may be absent in 
Russia ; but this does not mean that beauty is 
absent, and its manifestations are often all the 
more striking from their lack of obviousness. 

I was favoured with such a glimpse this summer. 
I was staying in a small wooden house in Central 
Russia, not far from a railway, but isolated from 
all other houses, and at a fair distance from a 
village. The harvest was nearly done. The 
heat was sweltering. Everything was parched 
and dry. The walls and ceilings were black with 
flies. One had no wish to venture out of doors 
until the evening. 

The small garden of the house, which was gay 
with asters and sweet peas, was surrounded 
by birch trees, with here and there a fir tree in 
their midst. 


Opposite the little house a broad pathway, 
flanked on each side by a row of tall birch trees, 
lead to the margin of the garden, which ended in 
a rather steep grass slope, and a valley, or rather 
a dip, likewise wooded, and on the other side of 
the dip, on a level with the garden, there was a 
pathway half hidden by trees ; so that from the 
house, if you looked straight in front of you, you 
saw a broad path, with birch trees on each side 
of it, forming as it were a proscenium for a dis- 
tant view of trees ; and if anybody walked along 
the pathway on the other side of the dip, although 
you saw no road, you could see their figures in 
outline against the sky, as though they were 
walking across the back of a stage. 

Just as the cool of the evening began to fall, 
out of the distance came a rhythmical song, very 
high, and ending on a note that seemed to last for 
ever, piercingly clear and clean. Then the music 
came a little nearer, and one could distinguish first 
a solo chanting a phrase, and then a chorus taking 
it up, and finally, solo and chorus became one, 
reaching a climax on one high note, which went on 
and on, getting purer and stronger, without any 
seeming effort, until it eventually died away. 


The tone of the voices was so high, so pure, 
and at the same time so peculiar, so strong and 
unusual, that it was difficult at first to decide 
whether the voices were high tenor men's voices, 
womanly sopranos, or boyish trebles. They 
were quite unlike, both in range and quality, 
the voices of women you usually hear in Russian 
villages. The music drew nearer, and it filled 
the air with a stateliness and a calm indescrib- 
able. And presently, in the distance, beyond the 
dip between the trees, and in the centre of the 
natural stage made by the garden, I saw against 
the sky figures of women walking slowly in the 
sunset, and singing as they walked, carrying their 
scythes and their wooden rakes with them; 
and once again the high, pure phrase began, to 
be repeated by the chorus; and once again 
chorus and solo melted together in a high and 
infinitely long-drawn-out note, which seemed to 
swell like the sound of some crystal clarion, to 
grow purer and more single, and to go on and 
on, until it ended suddenly and sharply, lite a 
frieze ends. And this song seemed to proclaim 
rest after toil, and satisfaction for labour ac- 
complished. It was like a hymn of praise, a 


broad benediction, a grace sung for the end of 
the day, the end of the summer, the end of 
the harvest. It seemed the very soul and spirit 
of the breathless August evening. 

Slowly the women walked past and disap- 
peared into the trees once more. The glimpse 
was but momentary, yet it sufficed to conjure 
up a whole train of thoughts and pictures of 
rites, ritual, and custom of pagan ceremonies 
older than the gods, of rustic worship and rural 
festival older than all creeds. And as another 
verse of what sounded like a primeval harvest 
hymn began, the brief vision of the reapers, erect, 
stately, full of dignity, sacerdotal and majestic in 
the dress and with the attributes of toil, added 
to the impression made by the high quality and 
pure concent of the singing, and one felt as if 
one had had a vision of another phase of time, 
a glimpse into an older and remoter world older 
than Virgil, older than Romulus, older than De- 
meter a world where the spring, the summer, and 
the autumn, harvest time and sowing, the gath- 
ering of fruits, and the vintage, were the gods ; a 
gleam from the golden age, a breath from the 
morning and the springtide of the world. 


The place seemed to become a temple in the 
quiet light of the evening august, sacred, and 
calm and the procession of those stately 
figures, diminutive in the distance, was like 
the design on an archaic vase or frieze; and 
the music seemed to seal a sacrament, to be 
the initiation into some immemorial secret, into 
some far-off mystery who knows, perhaps the 
Mystery of Eleusis ? or older mysteries, of which 
Eleusis was but the far-distant offspring ? The 
music passed, the singing died away in the 
distance, and one felt inclined to say, 

" Is it a vision or a waking dream ? 
Fled is tnat music do I wake or sleep ? " 

When I say that the singing evoked thoughts 
of Greece, the thing is less fantastic than it seems. 
In the first place, in the songs of the Russian 
peasants the Greek modes are still in use the 
Dorian, the Hypo-dorian, the Lydian, the 
Hypo-phrygian. " La musique, telle qu?elle &tait 
pratiqutfe en Russie au moyen age" (writes 
M. Soubier in his History of Russian Music], 
" tenait a la tradition des religions et des mceurs 
paiennes*" And in the secular as well as in the 


ecclesiastical music of Russia there is an element 
of influence which is purely Hellenic. 

It turned out that the particular singers I 
heard on that evening were not local singers, but 
a guild of women reapers who had come from the 
government of Tula to work during the harvest. 
Their singing, although the form and kind of song 
was familiar to me, was quite different in quality 
from any that I had heard before ; and the im- 
pression made by it is unforgettable* 

If the aspect of nature in Russia is, broadly 
speaking, monotonous and uniform, this does 
not mean that beauty manifests itself infre- 
quently. Not only magic moments occur in the 
most unpromising surroundings, but beauty is 
to be found in Russian nature and landscape at 
all times and all seasons in a multitude of shapes. 

Personally I know nothing more striking than 
a long drive in the evening twilight at harvest 
time over the immense hedgeless rolling fields in 
Russia, through stretches of golden wheat and 
rye variegated with millet, still green and not 
yet turned to the bronze colour it takes later; 
when you drive for miles over monotonous and yet 
ever- varying rolling fields, and when you see the 


cranes, settling for a moment, and then flying off 
into space. 

Later in the twilight, great continents of dove- 
like lilac clouds float in the east, and the west 
is suffused with the dusty and golden afterglow 
of the sunset, and the half-reaped corn and the 
spaces of stubble are burnished and glow in the 
heat, and smouldering fires of weeds burn here 
and there ; and as you reach a homestead you 
will perhaps see by the threshing machine a 
crowd of dark men and women still at their 
work, and in the glow from the flame of a wooden 
fire and the shadow of the dusk, in the smoke of 
the engine and the dust of the chaff, they have 
a Rembrandt-like power; and the feeling of 
space, breadth, and air and immensity grows 
upon one ; and the earth seems to grow larger, 
and the sky to grow deeper, and the spirit is 
lifted, stretched, and magnified. 

The Russian poets have celebrated more 
frequently the spring and winter the brief 
spring with the intense green of the birch trees, 
the uncrumpling fern, the woods carpeted with 
lilies of the valley, the lilac bushes, and the 
nightingale, which in Russia is the bird of spring, 


later the briar, which flowers in great profusion ; 
and the winter with its fields of snow scintillating 
in the sunshine, when the transparent woods are 
black against the whiteness, or, when covered 
with snow and frozen, they form an enchanted 
fabric, a fantastic tracery of powdered shapes, 
gleaming against the stainless blue, or when, 
after a night of thaw, the brown branches emerge 
once more covered with airy threads and drops 
of sparkling dew. 

Wonderful, too, is the sunset and twilight 
of the winter evening after the first snow has 
fallen in December, when the new moon rises 
above and is poised, like a silver sail, or a 
gem, in a sea of azure that is suffused, as it 
grows nearer the earth, with a rosy blush. 
The white rays of the new moon looking 
down from the sky flood the sheets of snow 
with radiance, and lend them an intenser 
purity ; and lastly, with a tinge of cold blue in 
their whiteness, they show up in bold relief 
the wooden houses, the red roofs, and all 
the furniture of toil; and these practical and 
prosaic household things these objects and 
attributes of everyday life assume a strange 


largeness and darkness as they loom between 
the snow and the faintly blushing and lustrous 
sky, as unreal and portentous as the conjured 
visions of a magician. 

The beauty and exhilaration of winter has 
been well sung by the Russian poets, and the 
long drives in sledges under a leaden sky, to 
the monotonous tinkle of the sledge bell, and 
the whistling blizzard with its demons that 
lead the horses astray in the night ; and as for 
the spring, whose invasion after the melting 
of the snows is so sudden, whose green robes 
are so startling in their intensity, and whose 
conquest of nature is so sudden and so swift, 
it has evoked some of the finest pages of Russian 
literature, in prose as well as in verse. 

But there will be some who will enjoy more 
than anything in Russia the summer afternoons 
on some river, where the flat banks are covered 
with oak trees, ash, and willow, and thick under- 
growth, and where every now and then perch 
rise to the surface to catch flies, and the king- 
fishers skim over the surface from reach to 
reach. Perhaps you will take a boat and row 
past islands of rushes, and a network of water- 


lilies, to where the river broadens, and you 
reach a great sheet of water flanked by a weir 
and a mill. The trees are reflected in the glassy 
surface, and nothing breaks the stillness but 
the grumbling of the mill and the cries of the 
children bathing. 

And then, if you are near a village, all through 
the summer night you will hear song answering 
song, and the brisk rhythm of the accordion; 
or to the interminable humming, buzzing burden 
of the three- stringed balalaika, verse will succeed 
to verse of an apparently tireless song, and the 
end of each verse will seem to beget another and 
give a keener zest to the next ; and the song 
will go on and on, as if the singer were intoxi- 
cated by the sound of his own music. 

But the peculiar manifestations of the beauty 
of nature in a flat and uniform country are not 
enough to account for the overwhelming fascin- 
ation of Russia. That is a part of it, but that is 
not all. And against that in the other scale 
you must put dirt, squalor, misery, slovenliness, 
disorder, and uninspiring wooden provincial 
towns, the dusty or sodden roads, the frequent 
gray skies, the long and heavy sameness. 


The advocatus diaboli has a strong case. He 
could, and often does, draw up an indictment 
proving to you that Russia is a country with 
a disagreeable climate an arid summer pro- 
ducing uncertain harvests which sometimes result 
in starvation, an intolerably long winter, a damp 
and unhealthy spring, and a still more unhealthy 
autumn : a country whose capital is built on a 
swamp, where there are next to no decent roads, 
where the provincial towns are overgrown villages, 
squalid, squatting, dismal, devoid of natural 
beauty, and unredeemed by art : a country where 
internal commxinications off the big railway lines 
are complicated and bad ; where on the best lines 
accidents happen owing to sleepers being rotten ; 
where the cost of living is high, and the expense 
of life out of all proportion to the quality of the 
goods supplied ; where labour is dear, bad, and 
slow ; where the sanitary conditions in which 
the great mass of the population live are deplor- 
able; where every kind of disease, including 
plague, is rampant; where medical aid and 
appliances are inadequate ; where the poor 
people are backward and ignorant, and the 
middle class slack and slovenly ; and where 


progress is deliberately checked and impeded in 
every possible way : a country governed by 
chance, where all forms of administration are 
arbitrary, uncertain, and dilatory; where all forms 
of business are cumbersome and burdened with 
red tape ; and where bribery is an indispensable 
factor in business and administrative life : a 
country burdened by a vast official population, 
which is on the whole lazy, venal, and incompe- 
tent : a country where political liberty and the ele- 
mentary rights of citizenship do not exist ; where 
even the programmes of concerts, and all foreign 
newspapers and literature, are censored; where the 
freedom of the Press is hampered by petty annoy- 
ances, and editors are constantly fined and some- 
times imprisoned ; where freedom of conscience 
is hampered : a country where the only political 
argument which can be used by a private person 
is dynamite, and where political assassination is 
the only form of civic courage : a country of mis- 
rule : a country where there is every licence 
and no law ; where everybody acts regardless 
of his neighbour ; where you can do everything 
and criticize nothing ; and where the only way 
to show you have the courage of your convic- 


tions is to spend years in prison: a country 
of extremes,, of moral laxity, and extravagant 
self -indulgence ; a people without self-control 
and without discipline, always firming fault, 
always criticizing, but never acting; jealous 
of anything or anybody who emerges from the 
ranks and rises superior to the average; 
looking upon all individual originality and dis- 
tinction with suspicion ; a people slavish to 
the dead level of mediocrity and the stereotyped 
bureaucratic pattern; a people which has all 
the faults of the Orient and none of its austerer 
virtues, and none of its dignity and self-control ; 
a nation of ineffectual rebels under the direction 
of a band of time-serving officials : a country 
where those in power are in perpetual fear, and 
where influence may come from any quarter 
where nothing is too absurd to happen: a 
country, as was said in the Duma, of unlimited 
possibilities. I do not think the advocatus 
diaboli can put the case stronger than that. 
He would call as his witnesses the greatest Rus- 
sian writers of the past, and the most prominent 
Russians of the present in political life, art, 
literature, and science* He would call countless 


moralists and satirists, and prove that the Rus- 
sian God is the God of all that is topsy-turvy, 
and of everything which is in its wrong place 
and as it should not be. And he would laugh 
at all the reformers, and tell them to reform 
themselves; and he would end his indictment 
with a smile, and murmur, " Doux pays ! " 
Of course the case of the advocatus diaboli is 
as unfair as possible, otherwise it would not be 
the case of the advocatus diaboli. And the 
defence could make a strong counter-case refut- 
ing some of these statements, qualifying all of 

But the defence can do better than that. It 
can point out that the very strength of the case 
of the advocatus diaboli constitutes its weakness ; 
because if you say to him : "I know all that, 
and you can make your case still stronger, if 
you choose. I admit all that ; and in spite of 
all, and in some cases even because of it, Russia 
has for me an indescribable fascination ; in 
spite of all that, I love the country, and admire 
and respect its people." 

What can he answer to that ? Nothing, 1 
think. If you admit the faults, and add that 


they seem to you the negative results of positive 
qualities so valuable as to outweigh them alto- 
gether, the case of the advocatus diaboli breaks 
down altogether. That is my point of view 
about Russia. I perceive countless faults and 
drawbacks, some which may be the fortuitous 
result of bad government, and only temporary, 
and which will disappear, as other worse things 
have already disappeared, with the march of 
time ; and others which may be innate and 
radical the result of original sin, and the way 
in which the Russian character expresses its 
indispensable dose of original sin, and inseparable 
from it and ineradicable. There may be many 
more which I do not even perceive. But this 
does not affect me, because I have realized and 
experienced the result of other qualities and 
virtues which seem to me greater and more 
important than all the possible faults put to- 
gether, and magnified to any extent ; and the 
net result of this is that the country has for me 
an overpowering charm, and the people an 
indescribable attraction. 

And the charm exercised by the country as a 
whole is partly due to the country itself, and 


partly to the mode of life lived there, and to 
the nature of the people. The qualities that 
do exist, and whose benefit I have experienced, 
seem to me the most precious of all qualities ; 
and the virtues the most important of all virtues ; 
and the glimpses of beauty the rarest in kind ; 
the songs and the music the most haunting and 
most heart-searching ; the poetry nearest to 
nature and man; the human charity nearest 
to God. 

This is perhaps the secret of the whole matter, 
that the Russian soul is filled with a human 
Christian charity which is warmer in kind and 
intenser in degree, and expressed with a greater 
simplicity and sincerity, than I have met with 
in any other people anywhere else; and it is 
this quality being behind everything else which 
gives charm to Russian life, however squalid 
the circumstances of it may be, which gives 
poignancy to its music, sincerity and simplicity 
to its religion, manners, intercourse, music, 
singing, verse, art, acting in a word, to its art, 
its life, and its faith. 

Never did I realize this so much as once when 
I was driving on a cold and damp December 


evening in St. Petersburg in a cab. It was dark, 
and I was driving along the quays from one end 
of the town to the other. For a long time I 
drove in silence, but after a while I happened to 
make some remark to the cabman about the 
weather. He answered gloomily that the weather 
was bad and everything else too. For some 
time we drove on again in silence, and then 
some other stray remark or question of mine 
elicited from him the fact that he had had bad 
luck that day in the matter of a fine. The 
matter was a trivial one, but somehow or other 
my interest was half aroused, and I got him to 
tell me the story, which was a case of ordinary 
bad luck and nothing very serious ; but when 
he had told it, he gave such a profound sigh 
that I asked whether it was that which was still 
weighing upon him. Then he said " No," and 
slowly began to tell me a story of a great catas- 
trophe which had just befallen him. He possessed 
a little land and a cottage in the country not far 
from St. Petersburg. His house had been burnt. 
It was true he had insured, but the insurance 
was not sufficient to make any sensible differ- 
ence. He had two sons, one of whom went to 


school, and one who had some employment 
somewhere in the provinces. The catastrophe 
of the fire had simply upset everything. All 
his belongings had perished. He could no 
longer send his boy to school. His other son, 
who was in the country, had written to say he 
was engaged to be married, and had asked his 
consent, advice, and approval. " He has written 
twice," said the cabman, " and I keep silence 
(i ya molchu). What can I answer ? " I cannot 
give any idea of the strength, simplicity, and 
poignancy of the tale as it came, hammered out 
slowly, with pauses between each sentence, and 
a kind of biblical and dignified simplicity of 
utterance and purity of idiom which is the 
precious privilege of the poor in Russia. The 
words seemed to be torn out from the bottom 
of his heart. He made no complaint; there 
was no grievance, no whine in the story. He 
just stated the bald facts with a simplicity 
which was overwhelming. And in spite of 
all, his faith in God, and his consent to the 
will of Providence, was unshaken, certain, and 
sublime. This was three years ago. I have 
forgotten the details of the story, which were 


many; but the impression remains of having 
been face to face with a human soul, stripped and 
naked, and a human soul in the grip of a tragedy, 
as dignified as that of Prometheus, as touching 
as that of King Lear, and as full of faith as that 
of Job. And this experience, which brought 
one in touch with the divine, is one which, I 
submit, could only in such circumstances occur 
in Russia. 

When I say that for me Russia has a unique 
and overwhelming charm, I mean that for me this 
charm arises from my love of the Russian people ; 
and this love is not a predilection for the curious, 
the picturesque, the remote, and the unusual, 
but the expression, the homage, the acknow- 
ledgment, the admiration of those qualities 
which I believe to be the " captain jewels " in 
the crown of human nature. 

" Those foreigners," wrote a Russian journalist 
not long ago, " who come to Russia and rave 
about the people, nevertheless in their hearts 
despise us. They admire in us qualities which 
they regard as primeval and barbarian ; they 
look upon us as good-natured and pleasant 

savages." I should like to assure that writer ? 



or any other Russian who chances to read these 
pages, that, whatever people may think, what 
I love and admire in the Russian people is noth- 
ing barbaric, picturesque, or exotic, but some- 
thing eternal, universal, and great namely, their 
love of man and their faith in God. And this 
seems to me of a kind and of a degree that makes 
all dissection of vices and enumeration of failings, 
all carping criticism and captious analysis, an 
idle business. It may be a profitable employ- 
ment for the Russians to blame and to criticize 
themselves, and it is one in which they are 
constantly occupied. It is less important in the 
case of a foreigner writing for foreigners, and on 
a country about which much prejudice has ex- 
isted in the past and many falsehoods have been 
written ; for him it is important to recognize 
and to point out the sunshine of which his coun- 
trymen are ignorant, and not to analyze the 
spots on the sun. For it is the people who 
admire whose observation is profitable, and it 
is those who see and feel the sunshine who feel 
and see the truth ; for the sunshine and not 
the sun-spots is the important fact about the 


Nevertheless, the expression of an admiration 
for certain qualities in a foreign people is always 
a delicate task. And often foreigners are justly 
irritated for being praised for the qualities which 
they least want to be praised for. Nothing is 
more irritating than the condescending tone which 
some people adopt in praising certain elements 
which meet with their approval in foreign 
countries. When, for instance, Anglo-Saxons say 
to the Latin races : " Keep to your past ; keep to 
your superstitions, your relics, your ruins, and your 
associations ; remain artistic and picturesque ; 
but keep your hands off battleships, aeroplanes, 
telephones, tramcars, and steam ploughs ; leave 
those practical things to us. You cannot deal 
with them. You are charming as you are. 
Do not try to be modern, you spoil the whole 
effect by doing so." This is often the attitude 
of people to the Spaniards and the Italians, 
and it is a maddening attitude. Or to the Irish 
they say : " You are amusing, why should 
you be competent ? Why should you try and 
deal with the serious business of politics ? " And 
such talk to an Irishman is more than madden- 
ing. Or supposing foreigners were to say to 


the English, to the countrymen of Shakespeare, 
Milton, Shelley, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Gains- 
borough, and Constable : " Don't bother about 
writing poetry or painting pictures, stick to your 
counters and your cotton-mills, you people of 
shopkeepers ; leave art to us," we should resent 
it. This attitude of mind arises from what a 
French writer calls " un optimisme bat " a 
sort of open-mouthed, weak-chinned satisfaction 
with oneself and all things, which is hopeless 
and infuriating. And when this attitude is 
blent with a tincture of rancid unction or a 
dose of gushing and indulgent sentimentalism 
when, for instance, people condescend to patron- 
isingly rave about the ritual of such an institu- 
tion as the Catholic Church it is more intolerable 

It is for this reason I wish to make myself 
quite clear on this point. If, as I hope, I have 
escaped the pitfall of giving the impression 
that Russians are interesting as exotic and bar- 
baric specimens, as thinly-civilized savages, I 
none the less wish not to incur the suspicion that, 
in admiring in them the qualities of the heart, 
I am overlooking in them the qualities of the 


head, or assuming the absence of sterner stuff, 
and of the tougher and more practical virtues. 
I do not wish it to be thought that I am saying 
to them, " Be good, sweet child ; let those who 
will be clever." It is not necessary to point out 
their cleverness and all it stands ior. We all 
know they are clever. I wish to point out that 
I think they are good as well ; and that their 
goodness is more important than their cleverness, 
because in general goodness is a rarer as well as 
a greater thing than cleverness. This may be 
a truism, but modern life has given to most 
truisms the appearance of startling paradoxes. 

Take, on the one hand, the most striking 
examples among examples of energy and practical 
achievements of men, deeds, and facts which 
the Latin and Anglo-Saxon races can show, and 
Russia need not fear to hold her own. 

Take any one of the faults which Russian 
critics hold up as the curse of the country, and it is 
easy- to show that though the accusation may be 
true, it is not the whole truth; that the con- 
trary is true also, and the exceptions startling. 
Russians, for instance, often single out laziness 
and the want of practical energy as a national 


failing. Well and good; but the defence of 
Sevastopol, the creation of the Trans-Siberian 
Railway, and the transport of troops over a single 
line during war time, are examples of abnormal 
energy in the domain of achievement; and in 
the persons of Peter the Great, Suvorov, and 
Skobeliev, Russia has given to the world examples 
of terrific and explosive energy. Stern stuff 
must exist somewhere in the Russian characte^, 
or else the Russian empire would not be there 
to testify to the fact. The Russian empire is 
the result of something, and it is there. 

On the other hand, take those crying faults 
which Russian critics single out and deplore as 
being the sorest plague-spots and the weakest 
points in the national life and character, and you 
will find it easy to match them in the other 
countries of Europe and in America. And 
you will often find that what is attributed to 
the evils of a particular form of government is 
very often really the result of original sin, and 
common to all countries under different forms 
and names. 

But my point is that while, as far as the general 
category of faults and qualities, virtues and 


vices is concerned, the Russians are on a par with 
other countries, and no worse if no better, they 
have, ceteris paribus, a peculiar and unique gift 
of goodness and faith in the nature of their 
people which is difficult to match in any other 
country, although you will find something like 
it in America. 

That is why I have dwelt less on that stern 
stuff and those tough and stubborn qualities 
which must be common to all great nations, 
and whose existence naturally and inevitably 
follows from the very fact of a nation being a 
great nation. Such qualities must be taken 
for granted. Did they not exist, there would be 
no such thing as the Russian empire. 

That is why I disregard them here, and have 
chosen to dwell more on those qualities which I 
believe to be peculiar to Russia, and which I 
believe to be also a source of greatness. I happen 
also to think these latter qualities to be more 
important in themselves. 

I hope now that I have made it plain that it 
is on account of a humble admiration for these 
special qualities, which by no means excludes a 
serious recognition and respect for all other 


general qualities, and not on account of any 
fantastic whim, condescending self-complacency, 
or hypocritical sense of superiority, that with 
regard to Russia I -echo the words which R. L. 
Stevenson once addressed to the deaf ear of a 
French novelist : " J'ai beau admirer les autres 
de toute ma force, c'est avec vous que je me 
complais & vivre"